INDIANAPOLIS — Until she got to college at Howard University, Dalian Williams doesn’t recall any of her teachers looking like her.
“People of color, black women, that was really important and transformative in a way that I not only saw education but the way in which I saw myself,” Williams said.
Williams moved to Indianapolis four months ago for the Relay Graduate School of Indiana’s Residency Program.
“I just really felt a tug in my heart to this program in the way that relates and strives to serve students from diverse backgrounds,” Williams said
“Our focus is putting teachers of color out in communities and really helping address shortage in education,” Dr. Carlotta Cooprider, Campus Dean Relay Graduate School of Indiana said.
Nearly 64% of aspiring teachers in Relay’s program in Indianapolis are people of color.
The school was recently named a new grantee of Serve Indiana, which administers grants from AmeriCorps.
According it its website, AmeriCorps provides grants to national and local nonprofits, schools, government agencies, faith-based and community organizations, and other groups committed to strengthening their communities through service and volunteering.
As a result of the new grant opportunity, Cooprider says 15 new AmeriCorps members in Indianapolis will gain real world teaching experience through the Relay Teaching Residency, impacting 450 local children and building lasting relationships within local public schools.
Williams is one of those students. During her first year of residency she is working at Kipp Indy Unite Elementary School.
Students who complete the program not only earn a Masters of Arts in Teaching, along with their teaching certificate, but they gain skills to teach students with similar backgrounds.
“Not only does AmeriCorps fund and offer grants for the majority of our relayed tuition cost and fund. We are also offered a salary and stipend for living and surviving through this two-year program,” Williams said.
“It also gives them a community of other like-minded individuals to talk about and to act on issues related to social justice and education,” Dr. Cooprider said.
“Just challenging us to think about those things and really reflect on how our identities play apart but understanding the identities of our students and how we can uplift those identities and cultures and that something that has been really strong point so far,” Williams said.