Partners in Action – The Spokane Future Teachers of Color Consortium

By Maria Esther Zamora, English Language Development teacher at Spokane Virtual Academy
Guest Blogger


How can we reduce the disparity between the number of students of color in our community versus the educators of color across the K-12 and higher education systems? This has been the question that I have posted to colleagues, administrators, and community leaders when having courageous conversations.

I have been a proud educator of color in Spokane for 26 years. I am a first-generation immigrant from Mexico, who has worked in various educational systems, from being a professor at Graduate School and University level to now being in the K-12 public education system. I had to reinvent myself when I moved to this area, learn English, and go back to graduate school to get my Teaching Certification credential while raising my family and working full time. It was a difficult endeavor, but not as challenging as to survive in a predominantly white professional field. I have persevered through all kinds of barriers to achieve my most important professional goal, which has been to inspire my students to believe in the power of education to achieve freedom.

I have always felt that there is no better way to transcend than to teach what you know, which is how to maintain your cultural values and contribute to building a multicultural community that embraces minorities in this noble professional field. As a mother of bicultural children and an advocate for immigrants and refuge students and families, I have believed that it is imperative to have more role models and educators that look like us. Furthermore, I have seen the greatness that comes from demonstrating our excellent standards and work ethics to collaborate hand in hand to educate our community. Read More

Podcast – The Educators of Color Leadership Community

From Top Left: Brooke Brown, Stephanie Gallardo, Tamasha Emedi, Denise Daniels, Brad Brown, Eileen Yoshina

In our Putting Students First podcast, we interview policymakers, partners, and thought leaders to spotlight education policies, research, and practices so that together we can create a brighter future for every Washington student.

In this episode, League of Education Voters Communications Director Arik Korman hosts a panel discussion about the Puget Sound Educational Service District’s successful Educators of Color Leadership Community (ECLC), in which panelists address why educator diversity is so important, what the barriers are to recruitment and retention of teachers of color, how the Educators of Color Leadership Community supports teachers of color, and how we can scale the ECLC’s work to support teachers of color across Washington state.

We were honored to interview:

Brooke Brown, 2021 Washington state Teacher of the Year and Regional Teacher of the Year from Puget Sound Educational Service District 121, who teaches English and Ethnic Studies at Washington High School in the Franklin Pierce School District

Stephanie Gallardo, who teaches social studies at Foster High School in the Tukwila School District

Tamasha Emedi, Assistant Principal at Hazel Valley Elementary School in Highline Public Schools

Denise Daniels, Director of Recruitment, Retention and Workforce Development in the Auburn School District and President of the Kent School District Board of Directors

Brad Brown, Executive Director of Kindergarten through Post-Secondary at the Puget Sound Educational Service District

Eileen Yoshina, Director of Equity in Education at the Puget Sound Educational Service District, who facilitates the Educators of Color Leadership Community

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Spreaker


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Recap: Advancing Educator Diversity in Washington state

By Lizzeth Mancilla
Engagement and Policy Intern


In this webinar co-presented with the College Spark Foundation, we have assembled a statewide panel including student activist Charlie Fisher of the Washington state Legislative Youth Advisory Council, founder of Unite Ridgefield, and advocate for legislation to diversify school curriculum, Alexandra Manuel, Executive Director of the Washington State Professional Education Standards Board, Dr. Mia Tuan, Dean of the University of Washington College of Education, Dr. Margarita Magana, Director of Outreach & Recruitment of the Heritage University Education Department, Dr. Goldy Brown III, Director of the Principal Certification Program at Whitworth University, and Dr. Gisela Ernst-Slavit, Professor of English Language Learners at Washington State University Vancouver Campus College of Education. Panelists discuss how educator and principal prep programs work to undo the injustices that have led to the current disparities between the diversity of students and educators, what more is needed, and how we can work together to support and sustain a diverse education workforce in Washington state. They also answered your questions.

There’s a significant disparity between the diversity of Washington students and educators. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) youth make up nearly half of our student population, while more than 90% of our teachers and education leaders are white. Studies show that BIPOC students who are exposed to teachers who reflect their race and ethnicity have higher graduation rates, and when more of the adults in schools reflect the communities they serve, deeper, more authentic school/community partnerships become well-positioned to transform schools in ways that dismantle racism and benefit from the wisdom and vision of families. In this moment of racial reckoning for our country, it is more important than ever to grow, sustain, and advance the priorities of BIPOC educators.

Dr. Warren Brown from the College Spark Foundation emphasized that advancing educator diversity in Washington state isn’t a new effort, rather a renewed one. It will lead to better student outcomes, close opportunity gaps, and prepare students to succeed in an increasingly diverse society. With much work needed ahead, “it takes change… community… and collaboration,” he stated. 

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