Helping a Diverse Group of Local Students Become Nashville Teachers
It is undeniable that teachers have an incredible influence and make an everlasting impact in the lives of their students. According to a Teach For America article posted in 2019, studies also show that students taught by teachers who share their identities and look like them can benefit even more, both academically and emotionally.
In an effort to better match the the system’s teacher population to the increasingly diverse student population in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS), Lipscomb University, with the support of MNPS and the Scarlett Family Foundation, launched Pionero Scholars, a scholarship and outreach program to create a local pipeline of aspiring teachers from students who grew up in Nashville and understand the culture and context of Nashville’s many different neighborhoods.
Pionero offers MNPS graduates the scholarship support and opportunity to become a part of Lipscomb University’s nationally-ranked College of Education. The program encourages students from underrepresented backgrounds, those who are first in their family to attend college, and/or those from low-income backgrounds to consider the teaching profession. Past and present Pionero Scholars have enrolled from eight different high schools across Metro Nashville, representing 12 different countries of origin, and speaking eight different languages.
For some students, the scholarships can be crucial in their ability to attend college. But Pionero students also enjoy a loving and supportive community of peers and mentors that support them throughout their teacher preparation and as they transition as teachers into their classrooms.
Ruby, a Pionero alumni who now works at her alma mater, Glencliff High School in Nashville, talks about the Pionero Program and the impact it has had on her life and career path: “I’m thankful for Pionero for the simple reason that there were people in the program that took a chance on me and believed in my potential and my power in making a change in my community.
“That went a long way in a moment when I doubted myself just to know that I had a community of mentors and of peers who were in the journey with me and more than willing to help me along the process. They understood that as a student of color, I had different needs and they were there to help me find the necessary resources to accomplish my goal of graduating from college.”
Watch this video to hear about Ruby and two other Pionero alumni who are now shaping the lives of MNPS students everyday in local classrooms.