Teachers of Today Featured in Minnesota Department of Education Article
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) published an article featuring Teachers of Today, the alumni group for Teachers of Tomorrow members. Below is the article in its entirety.
Minnesota Spotlight: Teachers of Today
Teaching is the most noble of all professions. It is the cornerstone of American society. It is arguably the most challenging, rewarding, and necessary profession that exists in the United States. No person got anywhere without a teacher. To grow and sustain oneself in this profession, it helps to have a cohort.
In 2013, the College of Education at Minnesota State University, Mankato founded the student organization Teachers of Tomorrow. This student organization, advised by Maria-Renée Grigsby, Director of Recruitment and Retention for the College of Education, is an integrated organization that continues to thrive and support teacher candidates of color to meet their unique needs as students on a predominantly white campus. Shonita Harper, a graduate of the University and current educator in the Mankato School District shared, “I don't think I would have made it through the education program in college and even remain in education today” if it had not been for Teachers of Tomorrow. Brent Ekstrom, a recent 2023 graduate who will begin his career as a music educator in Le Sueur Henderson Public Schools, explained, “It's a fantastic community to be a part of that's full of smart, capable leaders looking to change the world and move the conversation forward.” When members graduate and transition into the teaching profession, they are invited into the alumni group, Teachers of Today.
Teachers of Today recently celebrated its first year anniversary on May 20, 2023. Led by Grigby, a former K-12 educator, members receive free professional development and social support with those who have a shared foundation and continue their antiracist journey. Hopkins first grade teacher and Teacher of Today member, Jade Christiansen, writes, “I participate in Teachers of Today to maintain the connections that I made when participating in Teachers of Tomorrow that were valuable to me as a person and educator. The participation in Teachers of Today provides me with a space in which I can share my own experiences, learn from others’ experiences, and feel a sense of community.” Emma Mishler, 2023 graduate who will teach fourth grade in Centennial School district agrees, “Simply put, I would not have the knowledge or toolbox necessary to work to be an anti-racist educator and make schools a safer space for all students no matter their background.”
The educators take time throughout the school year in the evenings and on weekends to learn, work, and further grow their racial equity lens and professional practice. Jasmine Harris, former president of Teachers of Tomorrow, current member of Teachers of Today, and fourth grade teacher in Eden Prairie Public Schools explains the criticality of the group, “I participate in Teachers of Today because it keeps me grounded in the work that I am so passionate which is creating an equitable learning experience for every student that I cross paths with. This group allows me to continue my learning and expand the way that I look at education as a whole. The group allows me to put my students and their needs first and continue to push myself to be the best teacher I can for them. The biggest way I am able to do this is by coming to this group and collaborating with the incredible members in it. All of us have such diverse backgrounds with amazing stories to tell and whenever I get put in a room with them, I come out of it a better, more intelligent, and determined person. They push me and motivate me in more ways than one. To have the ability to meet with other people in this field that have the same views, mindsets, and outlook on topics such as racial equity, or creating culturally responsive classrooms is so powerful. That is why I continue to go back and participate. These people, this work, the purpose of ToT. There is so much meaning and power behind it.”