As a tenth-grade student, Kayla shared about her desire to have a teacher who looks like her. “I’ve never had a brown skin teacher—I’ve never even seen a brown skin teacher—and I really hope to have one before I graduate,” she wrote. “I think it would make a big difference. I feel like I’m always pressuring myself and trying to please my teachers just to help them feel better about having a smart Black girl in their class—I hate it.”
Many students of color go through their entire K-12 careers without having a teacher of their same race, despite a growing body of research showing the benefits they and all students get from greater teacher diversity. But Kayla, who’s now a few months from graduating high school, finally did have a Black teacher this year. I sat down with her at the Mighty Writers West Philadelphia location to talk about that experience and what it meant to her.