ANDERSON, Ind. — For 20 years, Schneida Burgess worked as a cashier in the cafeteria at Community Hospital Anderson. The position helped her realize a childhood dream of having an occupation, a career and a passion.
Now, Burgess has achieved that dream. She is a teacher, one of about 40 African-American educators working for Anderson Community Schools.
ACS's number of minority teachers and administrators, compared to the minority student population, has been debated — and criticized — by African-American leaders for years.
Several local minority advocates last month outlined a 10-point plan for improving conditions in the community. Topping the minority coalition's plan is education reform, specifically finding ways to increase diversity among the school system's teaching corps.
Burgess, a lifelong Anderson resident, has seen the benefits — for her and her students — of teaching for ACS.
"I have the best of both worlds," she said. "I get a chance to see children grow, and I grow with them."
Burgess graduated from Anderson University in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in education and works as a librarian and resource teacher at the new Killbuck Kindergarten Extension and Edgewood Elementary School.
After earning her degree, Burgess worked several years as a substitute teacher for Anderson schools, opened a daycare and worked as a preschool teacher in Fishers.
Like Burgess, Antony "Ty" Bibbs — also an Anderson City Council member — was raised in Anderson. He wanted to teach in his hometown. He graduated from Anderson High School in 1995, and earned a bachelor's degree in education at Indiana University and a physical education teaching certificate from Anderson University in 2003 before being hired by Anderson schools that year.
Bibbs believes he is an important role model for minority ACS students. "It's always good to see someone that looks like yourself in the mirror, supermarket at school and in the mall," he said.