Interim President Mary J. Meehan and Bettye Perkins, TSTT President and CEO welcoming TSTT students.
Seton Hall University announced a partnership with Today's Students Tomorrow's Teachers (TSTT), one of the nation's leading teacher diversity mentoring programs, to help expand a pipeline of students of color to pursue teaching professions.
Interim President Mary J. Meehan and noted educator Bettye H. Perkins, founder, president and CEO of TSTT, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on September 18, announcing the partnership starting now, with the first group of TSTT students expected to attend Seton Hall in Fall 2018.
The University is TSTT's 25th college partner and its first in New Jersey since the landmark teacher mentoring non-profit was launched 23 years ago to help address the critical teacher diversity gap in the nation's classrooms.
Distinguished guests attending the signing ceremony included prominent educators, business, government and community leaders. Symbolizing the partnership's goal, also present were promising high school students of color who have been mentored by TSTT. They hailed from high schools in Ulster and Sullivan Counties in New York, among the regions in four states where TSTT programs have been well underway.
The aspiring high school seniors toured Seton Hall in the morning and learned about the campus, its College of Education and Human Services and financial aid opportunities, among the first steps they are taking to explore the college admissions process for teaching careers.
Perkins said, "TSTT is honored to partner with the prestigious Seton Hall University, which has a distinguished history of academic excellence including its renowned College of Education and Human Services and is a champion of diversity." She added, "This is truly a very exciting development that will provide TSTT's economically challenged students with the opportunity to expand their horizons and enrich their life's experiences by journeying from their hometowns to study at this great college and thrive in a culturally stimulating and challenging educational environment. They will also be provided with meaningful financial support so that they are not saddled with debt when they graduate from college and pursue their dreams to be at the head of the classroom."
She continued, "As the first member of my African-American family who came of age in the segregated South to graduate from college, I personally understand and appreciate the enormous power that opportunities like these offered through this partnership will have in unleashing the potential of young people."
Maureen Gillette, Dean of the College of Education and Human Services, stated, "As the first university in New Jersey to commit to this partnership with TSTT, Seton Hall is proud to welcome a new generation of academically strong and culturally diverse students to fulfill the promise of community-based teaching candidates who will take their skills and passion back into their home communities to teach."
Maureen Gillette and Bettye Perkins greet TSTT students.
Drawing from her personal experience, she noted, "When I was teaching sixth grade in a Catholic school in my home town, about 30 percent of my students were African-American or Latino. Our society is still struggling to implement the vision of Civil Rights reformers and the ideals of equity and justice for all. I passionately believe in community-based education and ensuring that each and every child, but especially those children who are learning in our nation's most challenged schools, get an education that will allow them to reach their goals in life, and positively contribute to society."
Among the services that TSTT will provide to Seton Hall are academic support, career guidance and additive preparation to TSTT/Seton Hall students including workshops, networking opportunities and teacher placement assistance.
As a result of TSTT's entrée into the New Jersey education market, Perkins expects that its pipeline comprising more than 800 qualified high school and college students will expand. And so too will the number of TSTT alumni, now more than 150, who are changing the lives of students in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Virginia.
Perkins shared, "This partnership comes at a critical time in our nation's history when only 13 percent of the teachers are teachers of color, yet more than 50 percent of the students in the classroom reflect the ever-increasing diversity of the general population, posing serious economic and societal threats to our nation's future."
View coverage of the event on NJTV News - CEHS Partnership With TSTT
Listen to the WSOU radio interview with Bettye Perkins here.