Lowell Community Charter Public School (LCCPS) serves a diverse group of Pre-K to 8th grade students: 93% of students identify as people of color, and the students represent over 40 nationalities and speak 26 languages. Chief Operating Officer Robert Gignac explained that the school’s aim is to create a learning environment in which each child feels connected, valued, and affirmed.
LCCPS recognizes that a key part of this effort relies on ensuring students see themselves reflected in their classrooms. Toward this end, in recent years, LCCPS launched an initiative focused on diversifying its educators to reflect the local community. The school has been a long-time member of MA Partnerships for Diversity in Education (MPDE), a group that facilitates connections between public schools and provides DEI learning opportunities. Through MPDE, LCCPS connected with the Journey into Education & Teaching (JET) program, which supports paraprofessionals in their journey to become fully licensed teachers. LCCPS knew they had long-time, excellent staff members who had the desire to teach, but who needed support and resources to help them earn their bachelor’s degrees and the training necessary to become teachers. With the help of JET and LCCPS’ own teacher mentorship program, paraprofessionals from the community are now being developed from within and successfully moving into full-time teacher roles.
LCCPS recognizes that as important as it is to bring new, diverse educators into the field, it’s also critical to ensure they stay. Toward that end, LCCPS strives to create an environment in which all teachers feel meaningfully heard and valued. The school has established a faculty advisory committee that partners closely with school leadership and has redesigned its salary structure to better recognize teachers’ performance and tremendous value. The school also creates structured opportunities for faculty to have challenging and important conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion – creating a safe space for learning and reflection that leads to deeper understanding and empathy, and ultimately, stronger relationships with colleagues, students, and families.
LCCPS has made meaningful progress thanks to their efforts while also recognizing that there is more to do. The school has exceeded its original goal of 25% educators of color and now plans to reach 35% by 2028. LCCPS has been especially proud to recently hire the school’s own alumni as educators for the first time – members of the community who chose to come back and engage with the next generation of students because of the value of their own experiences at LCCPS.