By Taylor Sanchez
NASHVILLE, TN — Dr. Diarese George, Founder and Executive Director of the Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance (TECA) envisions a future where the teaching profession in Tennessee is as diverse as the students they are teaching.
For George, the organization was born from his personal experience as a teacher. He notes “for many of my former students, I was the first teacher of color they had ever experienced.” He sought to change that. According to their mission TECA hopes to “provide high-quality programming and networking opportunities to support and retain educators of color across the state of Tennessee.”
“Since its inception in 2016, the organization has attracted and supported a network of 3000 educators of color, allies, advocates, and community stakeholders across the state.” notes George. The state of Tennessee’s school system has a significant turnover problem. According to George, “the financial cost of replacing a teacher has been estimated to be as high as $20,000 for urban districts, putting extra strain on districts with limited resources that must absorb the cost of teach attrition.”
Since the organization was founded, they held their first annual Educators of Color Leadership Conference, DiversifiED, at Tennessee State University in February 2018. In October 2018, TECA released a policy report, Sharing our Stories, that focused on the lived experiences of Educators of Color. This was followed-up in September 2022 by a new policy report (RepresentED) that highlighted “the challenges that teacher candidates of color experience at traditional ed preparation programs and offered recommendations on how to support them.” George said. Many other programs have been created since their founding, and they were honored this year by receiving the Beacon Award from the 1954 Project.
Moving into the future, George notes a hope to diversify their Fellowship programs. They hope to expand to both charter school educators and create Fellowship opportunities for “LatinX” educators and those working in leadership positions.
On Saturday, September 22 at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, they will host their first awards gala: E3. Proceeds will benefit TECA’s recruitment, retention, and professional growth for aspiring and current educators of color in Tennessee.
George encouraged readers to know “As we strive to extend the tenure of educators of color, ensuring they stay in the profession longer, supporters can donate to TECA When you invest in TECA, you invest in Tennessee educators and education that exponentially impacts our country and the world.”
Find out more about TECA and their work at https://www.tneca.org.