Out & About with Antionette

Diversifying the Educational Workforce

I had an opportunity to interview Ann Hlabangana-Clay and Darren Rainey, Sr. on

Ann Hlabangana-Clay is Delaware Department of Education’s Education Associate for Educator Equity & Recruitment.  Ann has 28 years of elementary, secondary and college-prep education experience in Pennsylvania and Delaware as a teacher, an instructional coach, a lead mentor and as an administrator.

Ann leads to leave a legacy of providing equitable opportunities for every learner by building relationships, capacity and resilience – one educator at a time. Her recent work, in collaboration with Darren Rainey, has centered around diversifying the educator workforce in Delaware with special talent acquisition events with future educators at Delaware State University.


Ann Hlabangana-Clay


Darren Rainey, Sr. is a veteran working in K-12 and higher education. He attended Hampton University for his undergraduate studies and received his Master of Arts in Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education. Darren taught 8th, 9th, 11th, and 12th grade English, and served as an Athletic Director, Grade Team Leader, and Instructional Coach. 


His most recent role was as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Freire Charter School in Wilmington, Delaware. Darren has also instructed first-year teachers as a graduate teaching assistant and adjunct professor at Relay Graduate School of Education and coached male educators of color at the national nonprofit Profound Gentlemen, Inc. Darren currently serves as the Program Manager for Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Educators at Delaware State University where he works to recruit, develop, and retain educators of color at the university and within the state. 


He also serves as a Mindfulness and Leadership coach at Messy Roots, where he continues to coach veteran and pre-service male educators of color. 


Darren Rainey, Sr.


Ann and Darren representing the Delaware Department of Education are working with Delaware State University in connecting students and school districts in recruiting and retaining teachers.  Attending events such as football games are giving them an opportunity to engage, encourage and educate soon-to-be educators while building relationships and providing information and inspiration.


It is a proven fact that inclusion, diversity and equity for Black Americans is vital especially in today’s environment and students do better when they see teachers that look like themselves which is why it’s important to connect with students while they are still in college.


Mental Health is also a main focus for educators especially with the pandemic and the isolation that accompanied it and the Secretary of Education understands that which is why they are working on diversifying the workforce.  In Delaware, the student population is mainly African American which is why it’s important for HBCUs to be provided with the skills and tools for success upon graduation.


When you talk about educators of color, there’s so many things that educators of color bring to the table. One has been proven through data, statistics and research that reports that educators of color hold their students of color to a higher level which leads to lower student and behavioral referrals as well as suspensions.


DSU It All Matters Logo.


As a matter of fact, a recent study from Stanford showed that educators who graduated from HBCUs regardless of race, have higher levels of student achievement.  When students see someone that looks like them, seeing someone who understands their culture, background, and has some connection to their experiences it leads to an overall better educational experience for them which leads to higher academic outcomes for students.


From a District level, it’s important and crucial to have conversations about bias, especially if the teacher is the only person of color in a building.  Some districts and buildings are in great shape, but if the culture is not there, there’s often a higher attrition rate for teachers.


African American Teacher with students


Serving children and providing them with the best educational experience is vital and when educators don’t feel like they belong in that village or they are a part of that village, they leave because they’re searching for that community. 


The culture of a building organization needs to be established by those leaders because our children need us, they need to see us, they need to know that we support them because they are our legacy. 



To learn more about Ann, send an email to [email protected] or connect with her on LinkedIn.

To learn more about Darren, send an email to [email protected] or connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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