Genius, Joy, and Love Recognized as “Partnership of Distinction”

The University of Pittsburgh School of Education received a 2023 Pitt Partnership of Distinction award in recognition of its Genius, Joy, and Love initiative that supports high school students and local educators.

Presented at Pitt’s Community Engaged Scholarship Forum on March 7, 2023, the award is given annually to outstanding partnerships judged to be exemplars of community engagement.

Now entering its second year, Genius, Joy, and Love was created by Valerie Kinloch, professor and Renée and Richard Goldman Endowed Dean of the Pitt School of Education, to inspire and encourage Students of Color to become educators at a time when there is a national teacher shortage for all teachers.  The shortage is especially acute among Black educators. In Pennsylvania, Black educators make up less than 4% of the teacher population in K-12 public and charter schools, and many students graduate without ever having been taught by a Black teacher.

During summer 2022, 14 students from the Pittsburgh Public Schools district (PPS) participated in the inaugural cohort of Genius, Joy, and Love. Over the course of  four weeks, the students–whom Dean Kinloch refers to as “Genius Scholars”– gained insight into college experiences and becoming teachers, engaged in health and wellness activities, and made field trips to the Fanny Edel Falk Laboratory School, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s MuseumLab, Manchester Youth Development Center, and Carnegie Museum of Art.

“Our goal is to ensure that our students—or Genius Scholars as we call them—feel inspired, energized, loved, and supported as they embark on their journeys to becoming educators,” says Kinloch.

“We were honored and delighted to receive the Partnerships of Distinction Award from the University of Pittsburgh because, quite frankly, the success of this effort is based on it being a true community-based partnership,” says Kinloch.  “I am proud of what we accomplished in year one and can’t wait to see what comes next this summer.”

The initiative is a partnership among the Pitt School of Education, PPS District, the Pittsburgh Promise, and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

The project complements The Pittsburgh Promise’s Advancing Educators of Color Scholarship, which seeks to add at least 35 Black educators to the district over seven years.

In addition to the summer academy for PPS students, Dean Kinloch also created a summer institute for local educators. Along with Pitt Education, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh partnered on this eight-day institute for educators to engage them in hands-on transformative visions of education. Eleven educators participated in the institute and focused on ways to implement racial justice, equity, and innovation in their curricula and pedagogical engagements with students.

Planning is underway for the 2023 version of Genius, Joy, and Love initiative for students and educators.

Learn More

Selected Media Coverage

Genius, Joy, and Love: Liberating Educators’ Creative Capacities for Change (Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh)

To Build a Pipeline of Black Teachers, This Program Starts Recruiting in High School (Ed Source)

Dr. Valerie Kinloch: Genius, Joy, and Love: Increasing Educator Diversity (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)