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Eastern Bank Foundation Supports Educator-Scholars of Color

Increasing Diversity in Early Childhood Careers

Although Simone French ’23 loved her teachers growing up, none of them looked like her.

“My teachers ignited my love of learning but, unfortunately, I didn’t have any teachers of color until I began college,” says the Beverly, Mass., native. “Having a teacher of color would have enhanced my learning experience and offered a different cultural perspective.”

Now, Simone wants to help transform the teaching landscape by becoming an educator. A new program funded with a $100,000 pilot-grant from Eastern Bank Foundation is setting her up for that success.

Salem State’s new Educator-Scholars of Color Program aims to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the teacher pipeline by inviting students of color majoring in early childhood and elementary education into peer groups. Three faculty advisers provide guidance and build community throughout participants’ college years.

According to Salem State’s School of Education Associate Dean Nicole Harris, the program’s monetary awards help reduce racial and socioeconomic barriers to higher education, including the costs associated with Massachusetts’ many requirements to become a teacher.

“Individuals preparing to become educators face many out-of-pocket costs—including unpaid work as student-teachers and fees associated with the MTEL and other mandatory tests,” says Nicole. “The new program alleviates the financial burdens of these requirements and supports our students so that they are well-prepared to excel not only on their tests, but also within the classroom settings where they practice their teaching skills.”

Dean Joseph Cambone adds that the School of Education has made it a priority to diversify its own faculty and staff members, preparing them to train our students in a culturally responsive way. “With Eastern Bank Foundation’s generosity, we’re continuing this work to give today’s Salem State education students of color equitable access to obtain their degrees so that they may teach and inspire children across the region,” he says.

The Educator-Scholars of Color Program is initially focusing on placing student-teachers in Salem, Lynn, Chelsea, and Revere school districts—where School of Education graduates often serve as teachers and where white educators far outnumber educators of color. Ultimately, the School of Education hopes to expand the program geographically and across the K-12 spectrum.

Founded more than 200 years ago in Salem, Eastern Bank is proud to continue its decades-long partnership with the university through this new support, says Eastern Bank Foundation President and CEO Nancy Huntington Stager.

“This latest grant to Salem State University furthers both organizations’ increased commitment to addressing racial inequities, achieving social justice and eliminating issues that perpetuate income and wealth gaps across our communities,” Nancy explains. “We recognize that a strong, diverse early childhood system is fundamental to achieving lifelong success, and it is an honor to help Salem State University launch the new Educator- Scholars of Color Program and advance our shared commitment to create greater opportunity for future educators, child care professionals and the children they serve.”

As for Simone French, she plans to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education from Salem State by 2024. She notes, “The Educator-Scholars of Color Program has shown me that there are others like me who want to make a difference as a teacher of color. It provides a community of people who I feel comfortable asking questions of and sharing concerns with. The program directors have created a great space for us students to feel safe and supported.” 


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