Currently, a demographic mismatch exists between teachers and students within our local school communities, in our state, and across our country. While ethnic, racial and cultural diversity rise to more than 50% of our student populations, in Oregon the well-meaning teachers who guide them are 89% white[1].

Working to change this statistic is important for both students and teachers. Current research shows that matching the racial, ethnic and cultural background of teachers and students increases achievement, self-efficacy, and a sense of belonging in school, particularly for students of color[2]. For all students, seeing people from diverse racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds in positions of intellectual authority helps to undermine stereotype threat[3], reduce implicit bias[4], and improve cognitive problem-solving[5]. Diverse school communities can help prepare all students for life, work, and leadership in an increasingly multicultural and global economy.[6] In fact, teams made up of individuals from different backgrounds outperform homogeneous teams on problem solving tasks[5]. Importantly, increasing teacher diversity can also improve overall teacher retention, mitigating teacher shortages as staff mentor and support one another within and across groups[7].

While Arbor School and the Arbor Center for Teaching are but small entities in the larger educational scene, it has always been our aim to work at being part of what can be done to turn theory into practice, problem into solution, and need into possibility on behalf of students. For 20 years, the ACT has worked to build community partnerships and to collaborate in training and supporting Teacher Residents throughout their school placements and first years of employment. All Arbor Teacher Residents spend two years co-teaching full time in classrooms with experienced mentors, and receive support for finding a job, followed by one-on-one mentorship from an ACT instructional coach after graduation. Our central focus on mentorship throughout the two-year MAT and into the first years of teaching makes us particularly well suited to build a program that supports and retains teachers from under-represented ethnic, racial and cultural groups as they enter the field.

The ACT is, therefore, undertaking an initiative to offer two Fellowship positions for Teacher Resident candidates from under-represented ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds in our small bi-annual cohort. Beyond the stipend and housing, course books, and mentorship offered to all Teacher Residents, those who are awarded an ACT Fellowship will receive financial aid equaling half the cost of tuition of the MAT program at Pacific University, as well as support and mentorship from bicultural educators during and after completing the program.

[1] 2019 Oregon Educator Equity Report, Chief Education Office, 23-41,

[2] Egalite, A.J., Kisida, B., & Winters, M.A. (2015). Representation in the classroom: The effect of own-race teachers on student achievement. Economics of Education Review, 45, 44-52.

[3] Steele, C. M. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychologist, 52(6), 613–629.

[4] “Brief of amici curiae: The American Psychological Association in Support of Respondents in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin”; J. A. Richeson, S. Trawalter, and J. N. Shelton, “African Americans’ Implicit Racial Attitudes and the Depletion of Executive Function After Interracial Interactions,” Social Cognition 23, no. 4 (2005): 336–52,

[5] K. Phillips, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter,” Scientific American 311, no. 4 (October 2014), ; S. E. Page, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008),

[6] Bristol, Travis. Interview with Angela Watson “Why are most teachers white women and how can we attract and support a diverse faculty” on Truth for Teachers Podcast. Episode 144.

[7] Ingersoll, R. M. (2001). Teacher turnover and teacher shortages: An organizational analysis. American Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 499–534; Ronfeldt, M., Loeb, S., & Wyckoff, J. (2013). How teacher turnover harms student achievement. American Educational Research Journal, 50(1), 4–36; Sutcher, L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Carver-Thomas, D. (2016). A coming crisis in teaching? Teacher supply, demand, and shortages in the U.S. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.