The Department of Elementary and Second Education (DESE) announced that 15 school districts will participate in the Influence 100 pilot program, an initiative aimed at increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of superintendents and creating more culturally responsive districts and leaders in order to promote better outcomes for students.
 
DESE launched Influence 100 on Friday, October 11, which is also the same day that they began the second cohort of InSPIRED fellows, In-Service Professionals who are committed to Increasing the Racial and Ethnic Diversity of the teacher workforce. InSPIRED fellows meet with high school and college students to encourage them to consider teaching, and this year, the fellowship will also host regional groups in order to support retention of culturally responsive and diverse educators.
 
Both Influence 100 and the InSPIRED fellows aim to diversify the Commonwealth’s educator workforce. Approximately 40 percent of the Commonwealth’s public school students are students of color, but only 8 percent of teachers and 4 percent of superintendents identify themselves that way. In “Our Way Forward,” Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley included increasing educator diversity as an evidence-based practice that will help address achievement gaps and improve instruction for all students.
 
Influence 100 fellows will participate in a two-year leadership development program about the nuances of being a superintendent in Massachusetts, with a focus on what it takes to lead a district to be more culturally responsive and intentional in diversifying the educator workforce to better serve all student. Funded by the Barr Foundation, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and Education Leaders of Color, the program includes two components: a fellowship program for qualified educators who desire to move into the superintendent role in the next five years and support for school districts to become more culturally responsive and to diversify their educator workforce.
 
Natick has been chosen as one of these 15 districts. Specific goals of Influence 100 align with the Natick Public Schools' 5-year plan relative to diversifying the workforce and ensuring our current workforce is prepared to teach an ever-diversifying student body.
To be selected for Influence 100, district superintendents and school committees had to demonstrate a strong commitment to the program and its goals.
 
Two current women leaders in Natick have been selected as the fellows for this program, Vice Principal and Director of English Learner Education, Christy Arnold, Brown School, and Communications Director, Central Office, Christina Maryland.
The department is partnering with New York City Leadership Academy on the leadership development program for fellows. The academy builds the capacity of educational leaders to confront inequities and create the conditions necessary for all students to thrive.
 
We are thrilled to be participating in the inaugural launch of Influence 100 as it embodies our Social Justice Core Values, and works to support our district diversity and equity goals outlined in the Strategic Plan.