Paducah Public Schools work to diversify faculty

Paducah Public Schools wants to make all of its students more comfortable in the classroom. 

"We are not diverse as we want to be," said Assistant Superintendent William Black. 

Paducah Public Schools says it can do better with one of the most diverse student populations in the state. To do that, they want to diversify staff and administrators.

Hundreds of students of different shapes, sizes and ethnic backgrounds walk through the hallways of this elementary school every day. 

"Our student body is among the most diverse in the state," said Paducah Public Schools Assistant Superintendent William Black.

Black says this isn’t enough.

"We want our students to see teachers and staff members from backgrounds and ethnicities similar to theirs," he said. 

Black says for the past 20 years the district has been trying to make schools’ staff and administration more diverse, but it’s still not where it wants to be.

Even after years of work by the district, only 12 percent of faculty members are from minority groups.

"Psychologically and socially we identify more closely with authority figures who look like people in their home environment," said Lee Emmons, the Director of Child Watch.

Emmons works with children daily at the counseling and child advocacy center.

"It could increase their comfort level and can increase the level of understanding of cultural norms," Emmons said.

This is why Black says the district is beefing up efforts to recruit a more diverse faculty.

"It’s important to us that our staff reflects the diversity of our student body," Black said.

Even with minorities making up that 12 percent of faculty, staff at Paducah Public Schools rank second most diverse in the state. Jefferson County ranks first with 15 percent. Black says teams of administrators will go to college job fairs and student seminars to find people who are qualified.
     
He says it’s really about reaching out to as many college students as possible before they graduate. Black says recruitment efforts are important, because the percentage of teachers with diverse backgrounds in the state is low.

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