As IRT enters the Spring season, we are continuing to advise scholars as they manage their graduate school acceptances and financial packages. We are encouraging them to savor the joy and acknowledge their efforts in this milestone. We are so very proud of them. As we well know, keeping up with coursework, working multiple jobs, participating in campus activities and applying to graduate schools is a fine balancing act.
We are also in the midst of reviewing applications for our next IRT scholar cohort who will begin their programming year with a 4 week virtual Summer Institute beginning in late June. By remaining virtual, all accepted scholars will have access to IRT faculty, College and University Consortium partners and all programming content. As with other organizations and institutions in service of diversifying the teaching profession, pivoting to increase opportunity and center equity remains the core of IRT’s work.
The beginning of a new year and the midpoint of the academic year is often a time for introspection. As I begin this post three words come immediately to mind – reflect, reimagine and reinvigorate.
Reflect As I reflect on my time at IRT thus far, I feel fortunate to have the vantage point of experiencing IRT in several different realms from being a higher education partner as part of the Consortium of College and Universities, selected as Consortium chair and now hired as an IRT administrator. As a higher education partner I was deeply appreciative of how prepared the IRT scholars were for critically engaging with their academic discipline, navigating the nuances of graduate school life and exuding the confidence to fully be themselves even in the face of challenge. As Consortium chair, I was excited to work alongside the IRT leadership and higher education partners to create a collaborative environment. Though competition was a function delegated to our roles, it did not solely define our relationships. Several of us acknowledged that we could only accept a finite number of scholars into our programs, so why not learn more about what each other had to offer with regard to programs and support. In this way, we kept the focus on the scholars and how best to advise them about their aspirations. Now having the purview of being part of the IRT team, I see first hand the dedication, time and energy that goes in on the back end to adapt to the changing educational landscape and align support for our BIPOC scholars that elevates equity, expands knowledge and emphasizes wellness all while preparing them to apply to graduate programs.
Reimagine From these multiple perspectives with IRT the following questions come to mind for me. Given all that has happened in these past three years, what has changed or remained the same for you? How many of you have changed jobs and/or institutions? Has your ‘why’ for doing this work shifted? How do we chart a pathway forward for change in the midst of injustice and resistance? I feel a deep dive into these questions will allow IRT stakeholders to set a course for reimagination. Reimagining a future whereby students in our classrooms are taught by highly qualified teachers as the norm not the exception, who reflect their lived experiences and who believe in young people’s brilliance from the onset, whereby being ‘smart’ is defined beyond being book smart but also by one’s cultural and community wealth (Yosso, 2005) and whereby liberatory design (Anaissie et al, 2021) guides instruction and curriculum development.
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