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African-American Teaching Fellows to host Fundraiser - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

African-American Teaching Fellows to host Fundraiser

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Shanta Washington Shanta Washington

A nonprofit that supports African-American teachers in Charlottesville and Albemarle County schools is gearing up for its biggest fundraiser of the year. The African-American Teaching Fellows (AATF) recruits teachers in training to diversify the city and county school systems.

Fewer than 150 of nearly 2,000 teachers in Charlottesville and Albemarle County are African-American, but the AATF is working to change that. The fellows program supports teachers in training - with a promise they'll work in Charlottesville or Albemarle schools.

"Our fellows are part of a broad community approach to serving the kids who come from very different backgrounds," said Scott Guggenheimer, AATF executive director.

The fellowship helped Shanta Washington, who is pursuing her passion in an Albemarle County classroom. Washington says she's wanted to be a teacher since she was in third grade, but she struggled as a student.

"I was working really hard, and I just wasn't getting it. It wasn't clicking," said Washington.

Washington's high school teachers identified multiple learning disabilities.

"It was teachers caring about me, knowing what my weaknesses were and helping me achieve," said Washington.

She learned to learn differently, and now, the Charlottesville native is returning home as part of the AATF.

"I wouldn't have had the experiences I've had now if it wasn't for the fellowship," said Washington.

The fellowship connected Washington with her mentor, Karen Garland. She volunteers her time in Mrs. Garland's kindergarten classroom at Cale Elementary School.

"Our fellows are part of a broad community approach to serving the kids who come from very different backgrounds," said Scott Guggenheimer, AATF executive director.

"I was working really hard, and I just wasn't getting it. It wasn't clicking," said Washington.

Washington's high school teachers identified multiple learning disabilities.

"It was teachers caring about me, knowing what my weaknesses were and helping me achieve," said Washington.

She learned to learn differently, and now, the Charlottesville native is returning home as part of the AATF.

"I wouldn't have had the experiences I've had now if it wasn't for the fellowship," said Washington.

The fellowship connected Washington with her mentor, Karen Garland. She volunteers her time in Mrs. Garland's kindergarten classroom at Cale Elementary School.

"She just had this eagerness to learn as much as she possibly could," said Garland. 

Garland teaches Washington with the guidance 33 years in the classroom can offer. Soon it will be Washington's turn. "I'm so ready to have my own classroom," she said.     

Washington starts student teaching in the fall while she finishes graduate school at Liberty University.

The African-American Teaching Fellows is hosting a fundraising dinner next Friday. The John E. Baker Legacy Dinner will include a cocktail reception, a sit-down dinner, a keynote address, and the recognition of local community leaders. The event will be helf at Farmington Country Club from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

For ticket information, click here.

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