Tonight I attended the Orange NAACP and listened to a terrific presentation by School Superintendent Cecil Snead. I’m excited about the focus on votech, CTE, and STEM.

There were some terrific questions from NAACP members. An especially good one from one of the high schoolers present was: Orange has a great tech program (Hornet Tech) but how do we encourage more women and minorities to take computer science? One key solution is to diversify our teachers, guest speakers, and role models. My undergrad mentor and my boss at Columbia University where I worked as a research programmer were both women and leaders in their field (artificial intelligence), and simply by being role models they helped other women excel in the male-dominated tech industry. Visible diversity in positions of authority can give students that extra bit of bravery needed to challenge the status quo.

I’m inspired by Superintendent Snead’s efforts to focus on academic equity, and his book club with school leadership reading Zaretta Hammond’s Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain. I liked his response about how to diversify teachers by ‘growing his own’ by bringing back the Teachers for Tomorrow program.

Rural schools in smaller counties don’t always have as loud of a voice in the state legislature, and I pledge to be that voice and to work with the school boards in my district to advocate for them and for the students, parents, and teachers of the 17th district.

-Ben