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Webster Groves School District Makes Strides In Teacher Diversity

Nearly a third of new teachers are African American

July 06, 2018
The Webster Groves School District took major steps toward making its teachers look more like the student body, a district official told the board of education recently.

Sandy Wiley-Skinner, assistant superintendent of human resources, told the school board on June 11 that nearly a third of the teachers the district hired for the 2018-19 school year were African-American.

Out of 40 new teachers hired — from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade — 13, or 32.5 percent, are African-Americans. Twenty-six, or 65 percent, are white, and one teacher (2.5 percent) is Hispanic.

"I believe we were successful in making sure we have a more diverse group this year," Wiley-Skinner told the board.

There has been a major concern that African-Americans are underrepresented in the district.

Wiley-Skinner said one reason for the improvement was a district hiring event at the Steger Sixth Grade Center in January. Six of the 13 African Americans hired as teachers this year came out of that event.

Wiley-Skinner said she thought the district hired another group of highly qualified staff members as the result of a hiring event at the high school. Teachers, staff and administrators interviewed more than 70 candidates. Those interviews helped the district to hire the best people, Wiley-Skinner said.

At each school, interview practices were slightly different. The process was intense, and could include teaching a class, videotaped lessons and the involvement of parents.

"Some people can interview well and are not good in front of kids, and some people can interview horribly and are awesome with children," Wiley-Skinner said. "Having a multi-layered interview process for the different positions will help us to capture what we think will be the really good candidate."

An effort was made to ensure that interview questions were not biased. Building principals were involved in the process.

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