When you think of Maine, you think of a lot of things. Lobster, potatoes, blueberries, lighthouses...

One thing you probably don't associate with our state is diversity, as Maine is among the whitest states in the country, usually ranking first or second with our roughly 95% white population.

Lewiston, Maine, however, is an exception to this rule. The student body of Lewiston schools consists of roughly 40% people of color, which is the highest proportion of diversity in the state. In contrast, the teaching staff is starkly white, with only a few minorities represented by a handful of teachers.

In order to accurately represent the student body's diversity, the Educator Diversity Initiative is aimed at changing that. According to Lewiston's Sun Journal, the school department is teaming up with the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College to offer a free, three-college-credit course and a summer internship to introduce people to teaching. The course begins July 6 and is open to anyone, but Superintendent Bill Webster hopes it will attract nonwhite people considering a career in education.

The Sun Journal interviewed Webster on why the staff augmentation is necessary.

“Our students do best when, within the educator population, there are teachers they can relate to,” Webster said.

The initiative is similar to one started by the Portland School Department last year.


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