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

Here in the U.S. many of us had our eyes glued to the news yesterday as a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, disrupting a constitutionally-mandated session of Congress and sending lawmakers into hiding. We watched insurrectionists raise a Trump flag on the outside of the building, flinched at the Confederate flag being marched through its hallowed halls, and witnessed the desecration of our democracy in real-time.

It was a huge and horrifying day in our history. Our own citizens attacking our own government, all because the president refuses to accept that he lost an election. In their minds, they are patriots defending democracy from an illegitimate election. In reality, they are terrorists destroying the foundations of what makes America great.

The disconnect between what these people believe and actual reality could not be starker. Years of misinformation and disinformation, bald-faced lie upon bald-faced lie, and conspiracy theory upon conspiracy theory have led to this place. It was predictable. It should have been preventable. But it was still stunning to witness.

As an American, it's a little hard to digest in its entirety. We've been in this weird space of "alternative facts" for years, and have grown accustomed to hearing blatant lies pushed as truth. We've gotten used to being gaslit daily, from the highest office in the land. That constant deluge of falsehood has an effect on our psyches, whether we fall on the side of eating it up like candy or spitting it out like the poison it is.

So seeing what happened at the Capitol through the eyes of another country's media is really something.

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Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
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Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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If the past four years has taught us anything, it's that when you think things can't really get any nuttier, they totally can and will.

Case in point: Lin Wood's latest tweets.

Lin Wood is a lawyer who has filed or joined multiple lawsuits on behalf of President Trump in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Wood has been an outspoken supporter of Trump and a forceful pusher of conspiracy theories—not only about the election, but about...well, just take a look.

Wood already made headlines a few days ago for suggesting Mike Pence should be executed by firing squad. Late last night, in a series of tweets, Wood lays out absolutely bonkers allegations against Chief Justice John Roberts and the world's "most well-known & 'elite' intelligence agencies."

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After more than two decades of torturing parents and offering a horrible example for preschool-aged children, the era of Caillou has finally ended. The Canadian kids' show started in 1997, kept churning out new episodes until 2018, and now the will be taken off the air, finally.

As a huge fan and ardent defender of PBS—especially the network's generally excellent children's programming—it pains me to launch such a passionate criticism. But seriously, how on Al Gore's green Earth did this show last for this long?

My children were born during Caillou's early years. Having been raised myself on a steady diet of Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, I felt confident that PBS Kids' shows would be healthy, educational entertainment for my own children as they entered the preschool phase, and for the most part, PBS delivered. In addition to the awesomeness of Sesame Street, my kids got to explore the alphabet through Martha Speaks, dive into scientific questions with Sid the Science Kid, and build reading skills and curiosity with Super Why. My kids loved learning while being entertained, and I loved that they were learning while being entertained.

Then there was Caillou. I'm not sure if I have the words for my depth of loathing for that character, and I'm someone who loves all (real) children. I'm not the only one who feels this way. For years, Caillou has been a running joke in the parenting world, regularly taking first place in the "Most Annoying Kids' Show" category. Social media erupted in virtual celebration at the news of its demise.

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