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Wisdom to Action teach-in

Teach-In: Wisdom to Action in Allegheny County

Wisdom to Action-audience


Another successful RFA Teach-In is officially in the books. Held on March 19, 2024, at the beautiful August Wilson Cultural Center in Pittsburgh, “Wisdom to Action” was an event that brought together nearly 100 attendees, among them educators, students, community leaders, philanthropists, and policymakers, all focused on the urgent need to amplify the voices of Black teachers amidst a concerning decline in educator diversity in the region. 

We had the pleasure of hearing remarks from Clairton School District Superintendent Dr. Tamara Allen-Thomas, who said the mismatch in population to Black teachers employed in the region, “not only fails to mirror the rich tapestry of our community, but it also deprives our students of invaluable role models and mentors who understand their unique experiences and cultural backgrounds. Now more than ever, we must heed to the call to action and commit ourselves to diversifying Allegheny County’s teacher workforce.” 


Next, we were graced with songs from Choral Ensemble Director Joseph Stamerra and the Allegheny Traditional Academy Youth Choir and greetings from the Pittsburgh Mayor’s Office with Education Coordinator Alexis Walker, who proclaimed, “Every student irrespective of their backgrounds deserves access to exemplary educators. By fostering an environment where teachers of color feel valued and supported, we can actualize our vision of vibrant schools and communities.”




RFA’s research team walked attendees through the research and data from Small but Mighty: Lessons from Black Teachers’ Experiences in Allegheny County and Allegheny County Teacher and Student Demographics: 2022-23 Update. They highlighted the disproportionate departure of Black educators compared to their White peers, attributing the trend to factors such as heavier workloads, feelings of isolation, and racial microaggressions. Despite challenges, educators in the research emphasized the importance of retaining Black teachers and implementing systemic changes to support them.



Our panelists included Jason Rivers, Director of Narrative Transformation, Conflict Resolution & Violence Prevention, Pittsburgh Public Schools; Dawn Gordon, Principal, Pittsburgh King PreK-8, Pittsburgh Public Schools; Dr. Wayne Jones, CEO, Penn Hills Charter School of Entrepreneurship; Danielle Smiley, Propel Schools Educator and former Propel Teacher Residency Program Resident. Dr. Kathy Wilson Humphrey, President, Carlow University, served as moderator of the discussion, which covered the various issues Black educators voiced, including: 

  • Lack of support and inadequate compensation
  • Creating a strong educator pipeline
  • The positive benefits of having Black teachers
  • The need for affinity spaces
  • Changes needed in the state’s credentialing requirements
  • Training needed for paraprofessionals
  • Equitable distribution of school funding



We closed the program by giving Black educators their flowers—literally. As a token of appreciation, RFA handed out long-stem flowers to the 30 Black educators in attendance, all before a standing ovation.



Special thanks are in order to the Allegheny County Black Teacher Study team: Siettah Parks, Mary Eddins, Kevin Burgess, Leana Cabral, Alita Robinson, Anna Shaw-Amoah, David Lapp, and Saxon Nelson, for sharing your scholarship and organizing an unforgettable event!  

Stay tuned for the full recording of the event. Here’s a sampling of photos to enjoy and a selection of write-ups from the event: