Teachers, principal reflect on staff diversity

Advith Natarajan, Staff Writer

The minority staff members at Manhattan High only make up a sliver of the total staff population, which is predominately white. Moreover, the diversity among employees does not reflect our student population, which contains students from many ethnic backgrounds.  

“I’ve heard comments that we have no diversity on our staff, which I would disagree with … but we definitely have room to improve in that,” principal Michael Dorst said. “People want to work [and] students want to be part of a school where they see themselves represented in the staff and I think that is important.”

JAG-K Career Specialist Darian Taylor feels there is a lack of diversity in the staff. 

“From what I know, off the top of my head … at the high school we have three teachers, two counselors and only a handful of staff members who are of some type of color, which is very not representative of the student body that we have,” Taylor said. 

To address this discrepancy, administration is working to improve the status quo. Specifically, Dorst would like to look at the hiring process itself. 

“Being open to people who are applying, not just [those] that live in our community or the state of Kansas, but being open to candidates who are applying from out of state and making sure that we are providing those opportunities for individuals to see those open positions,” Dorst said. “And using multiple sources to advertise our jobs, and not being concerned about how will you interview somebody who is out of state because we have the media, we have the technology to be able to do that and in addition to that … the importance of how and where … we advertise our open positions.”

Spanish teacher Carmen Wilson is eager to see what the school is going to do in the future regarding diversity and believes the school is heading in the right direction.

“Right now we are in the right path,” Wilson said. “The meetings that I have been present in and even in our professional development, they are really working hard towards that [diversity]. So as an employee, I’m happy to see … [administration] have an open mind to learn and most importantly to improve not only for the staff, but most importantly for the students.”

Another building block towards diversifying our teachers and staff is the implementation of a teaching pathway. Programs like Grow Your Own Teachers are working in a handful of other states to train teachers to bring racial, ethnic and cultural diversity into schools. At MHS, the pathway available for students is the teacher internship through Career and Technical Education.

“We have a teaching as a career [pathway] and teaching internship currently at Manhattan High School,” Dorst said. “We have those programs, and those are discussions [about cultural diversity] that occur with kids.”

According to Taylor, staff diversity improves the overall engagement of our students while also fostering an all inclusive environment. 

“It is really important for kids to be able to come in here, regardless of what you look like, where you come from and be able to see yourself and be engaged,” Taylor said. “[To] feel like there are people like you or you could potentially see yourself in those shoes and not even being in those shoes but having somebody here who maybe you can identify with, maybe been through some of the same things you’ve been through. And I think that if we have more of that that’s going to lead to better engagement and better success overall for all of our students.”