By: Dr. Joseph Williams III

As a seasoned school leader with over two decades of experience in diverse educational settings, I have come to understand the profound impact that a diverse teaching workforce can have on student outcomes. My journey, from a special education and social studies teacher to a principal and now the Executive Director of K12 Multimedia Group, has been guided by a steadfast commitment to equity and access in education. This commitment is also reflected in my initiative, Elevating K12 Education, a plat- form that not only celebrates all K-12 educators but also places a special emphasis on black and brown K-12 educators.


My experiences as a school leader, particularly in turnaround situations with St. Louis Public Schools and Seattle Public Schools, have rein- forced the importance of having a teaching staff that mirrors the diversity of our student popu- lation. It is not merely about representation; it is about creating an environment where every student feels seen, understood, and inspired. As an African American educator, I have witnessed the trans- formative power of having teachers who share similar backgrounds and experiences with their students.

The benefits of a diverse teaching staff extend beyond the classroom walls. Research has shown that students of color who have teachers who look like them are more likely to graduate from high school and aspire to higher education. This is a testament to the power of representation and the importance of creating educational spaces where diversity is not just tolerated but celebrated.


In my various leadership roles, I have employed several strategies to attract and retain diverse talent. This includes fostering partnerships with historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority-serving institutions, implementing mentor- ship programs for new teachers of color, and creating inclusive hiring practices that value cultural compe- tency as much as academic qualifications. At Seattle Public Schools, I led efforts to develop systems and instructional practices that not only improved stan- dardized test scores but also created a climate that allowed for equitable academic and extracurricular opportunities for all students.

One effective strategy has been to create a pipe- line for future educators by engaging high school students of color in teaching internships and mentor- ship programs. This not only provides them with early exposure to the teaching profession but also helps to cultivate a sense of belonging and purpose within the educational community.


The journey to diversify our teaching staff is fraught with challenges, from addressing implicit biases to navigating systemic barriers. However, my experiences as a turnaround principal have taught me the importance of resilience and adaptability. By creat- ing data-driven instructional models and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, I have worked to overcome these challenges and build more inclusive learning environments.

One of the biggest challenges has been combat- ing the systemic inequities that exist within the education system. This includes addressing issues such as unequal funding, lack of resources, and the underrepresentation of minority teachers in leader- ship positions. By advocating for policy changes and implementing equitable practices within our schools, we can begin to dismantle these barriers and create a more inclusive educational landscape.


As school leaders, we play a pivotal role in shaping the culture and values of our schools. My leader- ship philosophy, informed by my experiences and my education in educational leadership and admin- istration, emphasizes the importance of leading by example. By championing diversity and inclusion in every aspect of school operations, from recruitment to curriculum development, we can create schools that truly reflect and serve our diverse communities.

Effective leadership also involves creating spaces for open dialogue and reflection on issues of diver- sity and inclusion. This means not only celebrating the successes but also acknowledging the challenges and learning from them. By fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth, we can empower our educators to become advocates for diversity and inclusion in their own classrooms and communities.


Through my work with Elevating K12 Education, I have sought to create a platform that not only high- lights the achievements of all K-12 educators but also shines a spotlight on the contributions of black and brown educators. By sharing their stories, celebrating their successes, and addressing the challenges they face, we can create a more inclusive and equitable education system.

Elevating K12 Education also serves as a space for educators to connect, collaborate, and learn from one another. By fostering a community of like-minded individuals who are committed to equity and inclu- sion, we can amplify our impact and drive meaningful change in the education sector.


Reflecting on my professional journey, my passion for helping students with diverse needs led me to pursue leadership positions. For the past 19 years, I have served as an assistant principal and principal, in elementary and secondary schools. I earned five college degrees, including an MBA and doctorate degree, demonstrating my commitment to continu- ous learning and personal growth. I am also certified as both a teacher and an administrator in the states of Washington, Missouri, and Georgia, showcasing my versatility and adaptability in different educational contexts.

Growing up as the second oldest among six siblings, I experienced the challenges of relying on public assis- tance in Kansas City, Missouri. This background fueled my unwavering belief that all children, regardless of their socio-economic background, deserve a quality education and the opportunity to build fulfilling lives.

I am also reminded of the importance of diversity in teacher recruitment and the critical role school leaders play in this endeavor. Through my work with Elevating K12 Education and my leadership roles in various school settings, I have strived to create envi- ronments where diversity is celebrated, and every student has the opportunity to thrive. As we continue to navigate the complexities of education in the 21st century, let us remain committed to the principles of equity and inclusion, for they are the bedrock of a truly transformative educational experience.

In conclusion, the journey to champion diversity in teacher recruitment is a continuous one, requiring dedication, resilience, and a deep-seated belief in the transformative power of education. As school leaders, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to shape the future of our students by ensuring that they have access to a diverse and inclusive teaching work- force. Let us embrace this challenge with open hearts and minds, for the future of our students, and indeed the future of our society, depends on it.