Established in 1990, The Institute for Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) is a non-profit outreach organization that seeks to expand diversity in teaching. Founded by Kelly Wise, the Dean of Faculty of Andover at that time, it aims to address the lack of diversity in educators nationwide by assisting students of color and marginalized communities apply to graduate programs and pursue careers in teaching. In more recent years, the program has been opened to Asian and Caucasian students.
A number of IRT alumni continued their pursuit in the learning field, including Jessica Acosta-Chavez, Associate Director of Admissions and Director of Multicultural Outreach, Marisela Ramos, Chair of the History and Social Sciences Department, and Yasmine Allen, Associate Dean of Faculty, who all currently work at Andover. Being the first person in her family to attend graduate school, Acosta-Chavez expressed her gratitude towards IRT for its guidance when she was choosing a career path after college.
Acosta-Chavez wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “When I was an Andover student, I heard about IRT but I did not really think about it as a potential path for me until after college… As a first-generation student, no one in my family had attended graduate school and I did not know what resources existed for folks interested in a career in education. It was during one of my visits back to Andover that I connected with a faculty member and IRT graduate – they recommended I look into IRT and I’m so grateful that they did.”
Describing the many opportunities IRT provided to her, Ramos explained how the IRT has played an immense role in her life. Aside from fostering the technical skills, the IRT has provided Ramos with a diversified field experience, shared with scholars of color.
“I cannot adequately express the value of IRT to my career and my life. In addition to test-taking practice, feedback on my statement of purpose, payment for submitting applications (which I could not afford on my own), I spent a summer immersed in intellectual discourse that not only prepared me for my senior year in college but also gave me the tools to be able to successfully navigate my first year in graduate school. The most valuable thing that IRT gave me was that summer with other scholars of color, something I would never experience again,” Ramos wrote in an email to The Phillipian.
Allen commented on ways in which the program helped shape her own teaching methods and engage with students beyond the classroom. Further, Allen touched on the scope of IRT’s influence, helping numerous individuals advance in leadership roles in the field of education.
Allen said, “[IRT] has made me think about building relationships with students and connecting with students, and wanting to know about students’ lives outside of the classroom. It was really the cohort for the program that summer whom I built relationships with and really got a feel for what the setting would be like at Andover.”
“I think it’s a wonderful program and it’s nice to see how people have taken their experience and expanded from there and gone on to get Masters and PHDs, and become Heads of Schools and gain educational leadership positions, even after Kelly [Wise]’s passing, it’s clear how far his reach was,” continued Allen.
Due to IRT’s positive influence on her own life, Acosta-Chavez hopes to share the program with a wider range of students interested in the education field who may not know about the program.
“If it wasn’t for a faculty member and IRT graduate’s encouragement, I would have likely not considered IRT as a potential opportunity for me. I try to pay it forward now and share this wonderful resource with students who are contemplating careers in education. ”
Similarly, Aleena Kibria ’23, member of the student advisory board for IRT, hopes the IRT can be more extensively advertised, as she believes that it offers fundamental resources and aid to students.
“As IRT strives to deepen the pool for minorities when entering teaching professions, I personally feel like it’s my job as a student advisor to let more people know about [IRT]. PA has so many outlets and resources and IRT can be one of them,” said Kibria.