"We all talked about the need for more teachers of color and what could be done to recruit and retain them."
Terae Harris '16 is the assistant principal at Meadows Elementary in Lacey and serves as an external stakeholder for the College of Education and Counseling's efforts to develop and implement an equity action plan.
As the assistant principal at Meadows Elementary in Lacey, Terae Harris ’16 has a wide range of important responsibilities. She assists with the instructional practices for all the teachers, oversees much of the disciplinary processes, monitors overall school attendance and maintains communication with students’ families and with the wider community. In the two years that Harris has been at Meadows Elementary, the school has grown from having 400 students to more than 600. In other words, she’s always busy.
However, Harris found time to serve as an external stakeholder and assist the Saint Martin’s College of Education and Counseling (CEC) in its successful efforts to assemble an equity action plan to submit for a grant from the State of Washington Professional Educators Standards Board’s (PESB) Advancing Systemic Equity program. In December, PESB awarded a two-year $20,000 grant to the College of Education and Counseling, and the grant is intended to be used by educator preparation programs to increase equity and recruit and retain diverse students, with the goal of preparing a greater number of diverse teachers and administrators to work in Washington’s public schools.
Harris graduated from the Saint Martin’s principal certification program and, as she explains, one of the motivating factors for her participation in the external stakeholder group was the connection she felt to Saint Martin’s, and to Linda Maier, Ph.D., assistant professor of education and director of school administration and graduate programs. “Dr. Maier reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in being involved, and I said, ‘Of course,’” Harris says. “We had a few meetings throughout the year—it was a group of people from different school districts with different experiences and job titles. We all talked about the need for more teachers of color and what could be done to recruit and retain them.”
Harris is still involved in the external stakeholder group. She attributes the connection she feels to the University to the bonds that were formed during her time at Saint Martin’s as a student. “It was like a little family,” Harris says of her time in the principal certification program. “Linda [Maier] and all the other professors were very flexible and understanding. They worked with us. We all worked together a lot. I know that if I ever have a question, or a need, or if I want some support, I can always contact someone at Saint Martin’s and get that support.”
Because of her experience at Saint Martin’s, Harris recommended the University and its education programs to her husband, Erroll Harris, who is currently pursuing a degree in mathematics with a minor in education and who wants to become a high school math teacher. “I told my husband when he was considering going to school that Saint Martin’s would be a good place, especially for him,” Harris says. “He’s a veteran and he wanted to get the best education that he could, but it also has to be a convenient location. At Saint Martin’s he’s able to contact the professors, like Dr. Boyer, and, if he ever needs anything, it’s close by.”
Harris is enthusiastic about how much the CEC and the external stakeholder group will be able to accomplish with the PESB Advancing Systemic Equity grant. “Linda [Maier] and I were talking about the need for minority teachers and, of course, we need those teachers in the K-12 setting, but they’re also needed in a college setting too,” Harris says. “I like the work that the group is doing. It is going to benefit all children and young adults.”