At a ceremony in Brunswick Sept. 15, four Portland Public Schools educators were presented with the 2022 Education for the Common Good Award by Bowdoin College.
The four recipients of this year’s award are Superintendent Xavier Botana; PPS Director of BIPOC Career Pathways and Leadership Development Julia Hazel; Portland High School Assistant Principal Alberto Morales, and Executive Director of Human Resources Barbara Stoddard. They were recognized for their work to transform conditions for educators of color in the district.
The Bowdoin College Education Department established the Education for the Common Good Award to recognize local educators who embody the three tenets that guide the department: be aware of the big picture, embrace theory and practice, and model and live in the spirit of inquiry.
Bowdoin Professor of Education Doris Santoro, who presented the award to the PPS educators at Bowdoin’s annual Brodie Lecture, said it usually goes to one educator annually. This year, she said, all four PPS educators were selected because “collectively, they have demonstrated the courage, vision, and tenacity it takes to make our schools better places for everyone, especially educators of color.”
Superintendent Botana was recognized for being a steadfast supporter of equity for all students in the district, and for wholeheartedly endorsing efforts to study and improve conditions for educators of color in the district.
Santoro said that as executive director of human resources, Stoddard has been working to increase the number of educators of color in the Portland Public Schools since her arrival in 2014. “Her efforts have yielded results – she has initiated comprehensive data collection; established intentional recruitment strategies to attract educators of color; developed grow-your-own-teacher programs such as TeachPortland; designed and implemented an equity hiring toolkit to intervene on bias in the application and interview process; and spearheaded research into the experiences of educators of color in the district,” Santoro said. “As a result, the percentage of educators of color working in the Portland Public Schools has doubled in her time with the district.”
She said that the research that Stoddard spearheaded in collaboration with Bowdoin College was conducted by Hazel and Morales, who were teachers at the time but have since moved into leadership roles in the district.
Hazel and Morales are co-authors of the Educators of Color Insights Report; an article in the latest issue of the national education magazine Kappan; and other academic presentations and publications. “They were responsible for interviewing educators of color in the district, writing the report, and presenting it to the PPS Board of Education, building leaders, and to their colleagues across the district,” Santoro said. “They played invaluable roles in the strategic and ethical dissemination of the report’s findings, prioritizing the well-being of educators of color as the district grows into becoming a more equitable place to work.”
Santoro concluded by addressing all four educators, saying: “Thank you all for coordinated and sustained efforts to transform the conditions for educators of color in Portland Public Schools. You are showing us how effective equity work – work that requires both institutional and culture change – is done.”
PHOTO: Shown (from left to right) are three of the four 2022 Education for the Common Good Award winners: Julia Hazel, Alberto Morales and Barbara Stoddard.
The Portland Public Schools is Maine’s largest school district, with approximately 6,500 students, and is also the most diverse. About one-third of the district’s students come from homes where languages other than English are spoken—a total of more than 50 languages. 51 percent of the district’s students are white and 49 percent are students of color. Approximately half of PPS students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.