HBCU Simmons College of Kentucky wants Black students to have teachers who look like them. On Friday, the institution announced it plans to join forces with a local school district to supply and develop teachers of color.

According to the college's press release about the initiative, while 35 percent of the local Jefferson County Public Schools student body is Black, only about 12 percent of the district's teachers are Black.

The school hopes to boost the number of Black teachers in the local public schools by six percent in the next year by sending its recent graduates to a special summer program that will certify them to work in local schools. From there, the graduates will be sent to classrooms around the district. 

Dr. Frank Smith Jr., executive vice president of Simmons College, said he believes the program will fill a large gap in the community, and he hopes to expand the program to cover the entire state of Kentucky.  

Akhilah Cherry, an alum of Jefferson County Public Schools and senior at Simmons, was excited to hear about the opportunity and said she believes it will help children like her.

"When I heard about this program, my little antennas went up," Cherry told Wave 3 News. "When someone helps you, you want to be able to become a better person, you want to be able to share that with other people."

Cherry struggled to identify with teachers growing up, mainly because they differed in skin color. Set to graduate in May, she said bringing minority instructors into the classroom at a K-12 level will have a significant impact on young students' future.

"It impacts you in a way that … just being able to see somebody that looks like you, that can relate to you, it makes a difference," Cherry said. "It's important to have that, every child should have that I think."

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