New MTRP Director, Whitney Taylor, leads with enthusiasm


Whitney Taylor, Photo by Tessa Chilton

January 27, 2023

By Tessa Chilton

Arielle Nealy, Graduate Assistant

In August 2022, Whitney Taylor was named director of the University of Louisville Multicultural Teacher Recruitment Program (MTRP). MTRP is a partnership among the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) and the Ohio Valley Educational Cooperative (OVEC). She leads the program with support from her graduate assistant Arielle Nealy.

MTRP’s rich history and commitment to student success began in 1985 to address the shortage of teachers of color in Louisville, KY., and the nation. “Since taking this position in 2019, I asked faculty and staff to prioritize the success of our students. Here, it is everyone’s responsibility,” CEHD Interim Dean Amy Lingo explained. “MTRP is one of several ways we are developing a dynamic and supportive learning environment for our students.”

MTRP offers involved students the support they need to succeed in their certification program, graduate on time and become effective teachers. It utilizes initiatives like one-on-one coaching, student networking, community partnerships, Praxis assistance, job placement support and scholarships. 

Ashley Rutland, an early education major, and MTRP scholar explained how the program and staff helped her overcome a financial barrier last fall. Rutland was unable to enroll for the spring semester because of an overdue account balance. “I thought my only option was to load my schedule with additional hours at work, in an attempt to defray this balance,” said Rutland. “When I shared this with Whitney, I was relieved by her willingness to help. With MTRP’s support, I was not only able to obtain the resources I needed to waive the fee and continue my next semester in undergraduate education, but received supplemental advice, check-ins, and support recommendations.”

Synthia Shelby, Alumni
Program alumnus, Synthia Shelby was also deeply impacted by MTRP. Shelby graduated from the University of Louisville with a master of arts in teaching. Today she is the principal of Olmsted Academy South in Louisville, KY.  

Shelby grew up in Greensburg, KY., and moved to Louisville to earn a bachelor of arts in communication. After graduation, she did not have a clear direction for her career. Eventually, after teaching Sunday school, her pastor encouraged her to apply for the MTRP scholarship and earn an education degree from UofL. “I ended up with that scholarship which helped me make the choice to go back to school full-time,” said Shelby. 

Shelby explained that going back to college as an adult presented its challenges, but MTRP made a difference in her success as a graduate student. “Many of my counterparts didn't make it through because they didn't take advantage of those things. And for me, that was what really made the difference – having other African American women and men that I could talk to,” said Shelby. “There’s something to be said about people that look like you and sound like you striving for the same thing.” 

During her time as a student, Shelby utilized MTRP study sessions, the work-study program, and the “MTRP family” she met along the way. Shelby’s passion for education drove her, but she credits MTRP for her success as a student. “I was ready to turn over a new leaf; it wouldn't have happened without MTRP,” said Shelby.

Shelby is excited to see MTRP come under new leadership and begin revitalizing the great work it accomplished while she was a student. Today she is looking for ways to support the program. “I’ve been speaking with Whitney and trying to do little things,” said Shelby. “Recently, I sent them a video to encourage some of the new students coming into the program as it's being rebuilt.”

 “I am incredibly excited to have Whitney in this position,” said Lingo. “Her positive energy, enthusiasm, and connections within the school district have already elevated the program so I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes moving forward.” Taylor brings experience from several educational sectors including public schools K-8 and non-profit 9-12. Taylor’s student-centered mindset and passion for teaching ensure that all her students receive a high-quality education, regardless of their circumstances. 

Flor Ramos, a current MTRP scholar commented on Taylor and Nealy’s warmth and compassion for students. “As a first-generation student, starting college was an intimidating and lonely experience. Whitney and Arielle, provide points of connection to fill this void,” said Ramos. “I remember a meeting I had with Whitney where I wasn't feeling the best mentally, she noticed something was wrong, comforted me, and checked on me afterward.”

Before joining the University of Louisville, Taylor spent 12 years with JCPS and served in various roles. Her most recent role focused on the development and implementation of curriculum to help bridge achievement gaps in schools. Taylor holds a bachelor of science in interdisciplinary studies with a minor in mathematics from Northern Kentucky University, a master of arts in teaching from Spalding University, a rank I in education administration from Indiana Southeast, and is currently a doctoral student at UofL.

Taylor shares her thoughts on the future of MTRP in this Q&A interview.


Q: Describe the “why” behind your desire to lead the program. What does MTRP mean to you?

Taylor: My “why” to lead MTRP comes from many passions: the hope to shape and mold the next generation, a sense of responsibility to my community and students and to reduce the critical shortage of highly qualified teachers from multicultural backgrounds.


Q: What is your vision for MTRP under your leadership? 

Taylor: To ensure that aspiring teachers of color have access to high-quality, clinically based preparation that honors the complexity of teaching and values their humanity and racial identity as well as positively impacts entire school communities. This matters because both teacher quality and teacher diversity matter. There is strong evidence that recruiting, supporting, and retaining a diverse teacher workforce has a positive impact on student engagement, learning, exclusionary discipline and other outcomes for not only students of color, but all students.


Q: What goals do you hope MTRP will accomplish in the coming years? 

Taylor: Schools across the country are facing their toughest staffing challenges in recent memory at a moment when students need diverse, effective teachers more than ever. I hope MTRP will reduce the critical shortage of highly qualified teachers from multicultural backgrounds in the coming years. As a program, we are striving to alleviate barriers and strengthen partnerships to ensure long-term changes to teacher pipelines, that will bring many more talented professionals into the classroom to support students in the critical years ahead.


Q: How does this support UofL's commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)?

Taylor: MTRP supports UofL’s commitment to DEI by fostering and sustaining an environment of inclusiveness that empowers our students to achieve their highest potential through individual coaching, mentorship, professional development, and diversifying the teacher workforce.


More testimonials from current MTRP scholars

“Being an MTRP scholar has been such an amazing experience for me. The program has made me feel seen and heard, while I am surrounded by other scholars that have similar goals and interests as me. I personally love the monthly checks we do; it reassures my confidence in the program coordinators who truly care about me, my success and ensuring I am supported (especially when I am struggling and need a little push in the right direction).”

Jasmine Meadows

Sophomore in Early Elementary Education

“Throughout my time with MTRP, I have been given so many opportunities to connect with others within my major and network with those who are already in the field of Education! I have been able to grow as an individual because of this program and I feel as though I am always supported. I love MTRP because this support system helped me achieve my goals as a student at the University of Louisville, but more importantly as a new teacher entering an unpredictable field.”

Melanie Mccausland Noguera

Senior in Early Elementary Education


Follow the Multicultural Teacher Recruitment Program on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Learn more about the program by visiting its webpage. Programs like MTRP are not possible without the generous support of alumni and friends. Donate to MTRP here.

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About the College of Education and Human Development:

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