How one teacher who was told she wasn't college material is boosting teacher diversity.
True
XQ

When Margarita Bianco was getting ready to apply to colleges, her guidance counselor told her she "wasn’t college material."

His remark almost put a huge damper on Bianco's plans for her future.

"I almost listened to him, thinking he knew more than I did," she recalls.


Thankfully, however, she refused to be knocked down by his defeating words. She applied to college anyway and ended up getting into William Paterson University.

Margarita Bianco. Photo via XQ.

"The first thing I did with my acceptance letter was place that letter on [my guidance counselor's] desk," Bianco says.

She wanted him to know how wrong he was about her but also that, as an educator, his words have power and can have detrimental effects on students.

It's unclear whether the counselor's opinion of Bianco was influenced by racial prejudice, but several other similar school experiences led her to assume it played a part.  

She made it her mission to "flip the script" and do something about the lack of diversity among public school teachers.

Pathways2Teaching student working with a younger student. Image via Pathways2Teaching, used with permission.

She started a program called Pathways2Teaching, which was designed to encourage high school students, especially students of color, to pursue a teaching career.

"Teachers need to mirror the student population," Bianco declares.

83% of teachers in America are white, and 75% are women. Meanwhile, minorities make up the majority of public school students. That doesn't exactly help them embrace their cultures and backgrounds.

Despite the current disparity, studies have found that students, no matter their race, generally prefer to have teachers of color.

A male student teacher working with kids. Image via Pathways2Teaching, used with permission.

What's more, students of color tend to perform better academically when they have a teacher of color. The theory behind this is that students are more likely to connect with teachers who are sensitive to their cultural needs.

Such role models were sorely lacking in Bianco's adolescence, which is why she was inspired to become a teacher in the first place.

Now in its eighth year, Pathways2Teaching is well on its way to becoming an academic model for the entire country.

A teacher reads to students. Photo via XQ.

Similar to Grow Your Own Teachers, Pathways is helping set a precedent for the kind of diversity all schools should be advocating for. By fostering local prospective teachers of color, they're not only encouraging educator diversity, they're showing students how valuable people of color are to the academic community.

In a country that's in desperate need of some new role models, there couldn't be a better time for a program like this to flourish.

Learn more at XQSuperSchool.org.

Learn more about Pathways and Bianco's story here:

XQ Luminaries: Margarita Bianco

Through a curriculum focused on cultural understanding, this teacher is motivating students of color to become engaged in education.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less