The Teacher Testimony Project uplifts the voices of Teachers of Color through the writing and sharing of testimonies featuring the values, strengths, and capital of teachers, students, and communities in ways that reimagine and advance social justice efforts in education.
Started in 2015 with funding from an AERA Education Service Project Grant, the broader Teacher Testimony Project vision is to:
Document and feature teacher testimonies from various teacher education and alternative route programs committed to social justice efforts in education
Develop qualitative maps of unseen resources and strengths being invested in schools and local communities by Teachers of Color
Center the voices of Teachers of Color to speak the truth about the ways in which they work to be change agents in their communities
Challenge and debunk deficit perspectives of the value community-based Teachers of Color add to the teaching profession
Create communal spaces of healing and renewal for Teachers of Color through the writing and sharing of testimonies
The GYO Illinois—Chicago Teachers of Color are featured below to spotlight the challenges and victories they have experienced on their journey to becoming teachers.
An overlooked approach to increasing the pool of quality teachers is creating professional pipelines for people of color with deeply rooted investments in school communities to enter the teaching profession. Grow Your Own (GYO) Illinois is a nonprofit organization that focuses on the recruitment of Teachers of Color with commitments to their neighborhood school communities. One challenge for the program is conveying the value this subset of teachers adds to schools and local communities beyond student achievement gains. Teacher Testimonies from Chicago-based GYO Illinois educators are featured to spotlight the challenges and victories they have experienced on their journey to becoming teachers. In different ways, the testimonies focus on the community cultural wealth (i.e., familial, navigational, social, cultural, aspirational, and linguistic—Yosso, 2005) the teachers possess as well as how their experiences position them to challenge and inspire students who are from similar racial/ethnic, social, cultural, economic, and educational backgrounds.