NEA grant will increase Beloit’s staff diversity

From the WEAC Region 6 SmartBoard

When WEAC Region 6 vice president and Beloit Education Association (BEA) president Tim Vedra learned that a minority-recruitment scholarship program was helping to diversify the teaching staff in Janesville he immediately started thinking about what a similar program could do for Beloit’s schools. Then he did something about it.

“The racial composition of the employees in Beloit’s schools is much different than the student population, and there is a lot of research that shows that minority students and non-minority students benefit from having more minority teachers in the schools,” Vedra said. “I’m proud that my union is addressing this need for students and the community in Beloit.”

The help is coming in the form of a $5,000 grant the Nation Education Association (NEA) awarded to Region 6, BEA and the Beloit Secretaries Union (BSU) to support a scholarship program in Beloit.

The Janesville Multicultural Teacher Opportunities Scholarship program, started by former state Senator and Janesville school board member Tim Cullen, awards scholarships to Janesville students who agree to major in education and apply for teaching positions in their home school district when they graduate. Beloit’s new Grow Your Own program will work the same way.

The successful NEA grant proposal was submitted by Michael Walsh, the Region 6 director who works with BEA, BSU and other locals in Rock County. The $5,000 award will support the scholarship program in Beloit by helping to pay for fundraising and administration to increase the size of the program and the number of scholarships it can award. The union’s grant proposal was helped by a letter of support from Cullen himself.

A recent article in the Janesville Gazette focused on scholarship recipients who are now working in Janesville’s schools. There are four recipients currently working in Janesville’s schools and five more who are currently enrolled in college.

Jared Fox, who graduated from UW-Milwaukee with the help of a Janesville Multicultural Teacher Opportunities Scholarship and now teaches at Janesville Parker High School, credits the program for putting him where he is today.

“You feel that motivation to keep up your end of the bargain and excel,” Fox said.