Pamela Henson's classroom at Popps Ferry Elementary is filled with faces from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds. With different cultures, come different needs.
Henson said, "Sometimes students come from such various backgrounds that if you're not a minority, and the student is a minority, you have a hard time identifying and helping them and reaching them."
That's why one group is trying to attract more qualified minority teachers to Biloxi. A newly-formed advisory committee faces the challenge of recruiting teachers to add diversity to the classroom.
Mildred Roy is a committee member.
She said, "There's a shortage of teachers. I think we only have one Vietnamese teacher in the school district. We can use more Vietnamese teachers, more black teachers, more Hispanic teachers."
School Board President David Blaine said, "We're going to be meeting and looking at ways to go to career days at universities to attract employees to our district to encourage them not only to become teachers, but also administrators as well."
Another idea is to work with the Chamber of Commerce to entice teachers to live and work in Biloxi.
Roy said, "They will help us put together a packet where we can bring a teacher down to our area, and let her visit the city. She can look at the school district to see what it's like. We want to point them, draw them to the district to help our children."
Roy agrees that minority teachers share a special bond with minority students.
She said, "They learn better when there's so many cultural differences, and our children need to have someone they can relate to. The problems that they have, if they go to a person that they feel look like them, or look more like mom, then they can talk to that person better."
School leaders believe more minority teachers will give students a variety of role models and broaden their learning experience.
The advisory committee will hold a round table discussion on August 26th to brainstorm and share ideas on the best ways to recruit, hire and retain minority teachers.