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Podcast | What it’s like for one teacher of color

Michelle Ellis with students at Hunter Huss High School (Photo credit: Alex Granados)

Michelle Ellis is in her fifth year teaching at Hunter Huss High School in Gastonia after years teaching in elementary school and middle school. In this episode of EdTalk, host Alex Granados talks with her about what she’s learned as a teacher and what her experience as a teacher of color is like in a state that is grappling with the need to recruit a more diverse teaching workforce.

“Having a diverse teaching population is very important for students to be able to see who they can be. When we talk about mentoring programs, we want to bring in people of color … so that they (students) can see themselves reflected,” said Ellis. “If you have an education system that’s predominately white female, where are they going to see the reflection of themselves?”

Ellis continued by discussing an old newspaper article that covered her experience being homeless as a child.

“I put a little sticker on it that says ‘remember your why’ and I laminated it. And I put it this semester where I could see it because I wanted to remember why I started so that kids can see that no matter what background you came from, there’s still a chance — there’s still hope,” said Ellis.

Ellis also discussed her experiences as a teacher of color in a predominately white workforce.

“I think some people don’t understand what we face as educators of color,” said Ellis. “We face racism in different ways. I expected as a teacher to face racism from parents. I didn’t expect to face racism within.”


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