Ben Mackenzie grew up between the mountain ranges in Montana. Since then, he’s called classrooms around the world home – from the Indian Himalayas to the dusty Ghanaian plains, from city skyscrapers to country pastures. Having returned to Minnesota to start a family, he’s been active in making schools great for local families as a ninth grade speech & composition teacher at Hiawatha Collegiate High School and a member of Educators for Excellence-MN’s Teacher Policy Team on Teacher Diversity. Ben has always loved helping young people start to find their voice, express their opinions and share their ideas with the world. And, is most excited when they take over for him!
We took a moment with Ben to discuss the Collaborative Urban Educator program’s expansion and the change he hopes it brings…
Thanks for reading!,
Nyemadi Dunbar, MN Comeback
ND: What change do you hope the CUE program will bring?
BM: I hope that the CUE program will invite a greater diversity of young people to become teachers for Minnesota’s increasingly diverse student body. Through CUE, and the diverse teachers it helps nurture, our classrooms will include more perspectives and achieve greater equity in our communities.
ND: As it relates to CUE, what would you like people in Minnesota to know?
BM: Minnesotans should know that CUE works to serve every citizen. Making it easier for diverse students with an interest in education to complete degrees free from debt will make it more likely that school districts can hire, train, and retain excellent teachers of all backgrounds. As the influence of these diverse teachers grows and inspires young Minnesotans throughout the state, they will, in turn, help unite our communities for a brighter future.
ND: How will expanding CUE affect your work?
BM: The expansion of CUE will make it more likely that I will work with superb colleagues, trained by excellent professors and prepared to make a difference in Minnesota schools. I hope that it also serves as a gateway for some of my own students to consider education as a career so they can go from my students to my co-workers and push me to be better for students like them.
ND: What’s the next step? Where do we go from here now that legislation has passed to strengthen CUE?
BM: Now that CUE has been strengthened by the legislature, we must ensure that institutions who take the funds strengthen the programming offered to be more inclusive, more practical, and more supportive of 21st century needs. As we learn to teach our diverse student bodies differently, we must also learn to train all members of our diverse teaching corps differently.