As a student, teacher, and school leader, Farida Mama Graham has benefitted from adults, teachers, and mentors who demonstrated belief in her potential. Her long commitment to educational equity led Farida to her current role as Executive Director at the Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter Public School (APR), where building and sustaining diversity has been a key component of the school’s vision to provide an excellent education to its students.
Today, over one-third of classroom teachers at APR identify as people of color and over 50% of leaders identify as people of color; many of the board members are APR alumni. “There’s something so special about the way our school leaders and teachers of color interact with our kids and our families. Our kids see themselves reflected in their educators, feel their belief, and are empowered to pursue opportunity,” Farida explained.
To achieve greater diversity, APR has focused on building a strong talent ecosystem, reinvesting in partnerships with other mission-aligned organizations such as Teach for America, building relationships across the sector, and leveraging employee referrals. The school consistently sees the value of applicants learning about APR from individuals they know and trust.
APR is equally committed to retaining teachers and leaders of color and has been very intentional about all aspects of the employee experience. Farida explained that from an equity perspective, providing thoughtful channels for all employees – and particularly traditionally underrepresented community members – to share feedback is critical. The school has invested heavily in training direct managers, and the feedback gathered shows that teachers feel their coaches support them and their practice. The vast majority of APR’s teacher coaches are people of color.
To amplify the message that achieving greater diversity is both possible and our collective responsibility, Farida testified before the Joint Committee on Education last June in support of the Educator Diversity Act. She shared her story and called on the committee to provide the resources schools need to build and share in a collaborative talent ecosystem that supports both teachers and leaders of color. Farida was struck by the policy-makers’ interest in APR. “It was humbling to be reminded that by storytelling through our testimonies, we make our experiences accessible,” she said. “I hope more kids, families, and educators feel inspired to share their own.”
Join us in supporting the Educator Diversity Act. You can help move this critical legislation forward by emailing your legislators now!