Opinion: The Power of a Familiar Face

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Every student deserves to see someone they can relate to in a position of authority

Every day we wake up to go to the same place, for the same amount of time, with the same people. Though we have many things in common as Jeff High students, we are all different. We have different priorities, motivations and backgrounds. You may not have thought about it this way, but finding someone who shares your background could help you learn.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, in the 2016-17 school year there were 92.3 percent white teachers to 7.8 percent of non-white teachers at Jeffersonville High School.* While the student body has a great deal of diversity, the teaching staff does not. This may be what is making it hard for students to engage academically. If students don’t see someone who looks like them in power, it’s hard for them to imagine themselves in that position.

Junior Ananda Brooks says that when she has a teacher who has a similar background, “I can relate and be motivated more. If they can do it coming from where I do, then I know I can too,” she said.

Each student has a different range of strengths in certain areas. Some can be based on their environment and how they were brought up. Others can be strictly social based. Some teachers are willing to modify the way they teach to the way some students learn. On the other hand, adapting their teaching style is out of the question for some teachers; students who struggle in the classroom that know this are willing just to give up. Most students just want their teachers to encourage them.

Lanna Tate, a junior, spoke on how one of her predominantly white teachers did not encourage her to strive for a higher semester grade after she had asked if there was anything she could do to raise it. Despite that one teacher, she had a staff member of color guide her as a student. “He gave me a lot of advice and helped me make smart decisions in school and out,” said Tate.

Schools should provide teachers who can properly engage students with the same ethnicity or background because not all students are the same. Every student deserves to see someone they can relate to in a position of authority. Give the chance for JHS students to grow feeling empowered in their academics. All students may not remember the knowledge, but we choose to remember the individuals who taught us.

Written by Alanna Groves

Photo by Caleb Sorrells

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