2018 Winner of the AARP Purpose Prize


Recipient of 2018 Andrus Award for Intergenerational Excellence President & CEO, Today’s Students Tomorrow’s Teachers (TSTT)

Our mission is to recruit, mentor, and train culturally diverse and economically challenged students who then serve as effective teachers and role models, who strengthen schools and communities.

The problem I’m trying to solve:
America has long experienced a racial student achievement gap, despite federal and state interventions. The greatest impediment to increasing academic performance and graduation rates among children of color is the lack of teachers who mirror their cultural diversity. Studies have found that non-black teachers have significantly lower educational expectations for black students than black teachers. Yet only 18 percent of the nation’s 3.5 million teachers are teachers of color and less than 2 percent are African American males. TSTT has established a research-based Full-Circle Teacher Preparation model to motivate students to complete high school, graduate from college and become teachers themselves. This type of work requires an incredible amount of time, money and effort. But the payoffs are great. For example, one of our students dropped out of college his first year with a 1.7 GPA, but I didn’t write him off. I kept in touch with him, and a few years later he came back into the program. He’s now an assistant principal in one of our school districts.

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TSTT Founder and CEO

Dr. Bettye H. Perkins Ed. D., Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Today’s Teachers Tomorrow’s Teachers (TSTT), has been at the forefront in helping to close the teacher diversity gap in America’s schools for more than 23 years.  With an enormous passion for opening doors for young people, Dr. Perkins launched TSTT in 1994 with only 7 students in Westchester County, New York. Today, TSTT’s full-circle collaborative model has been successfully replicated in four states: New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Virginia. TSTT has produced over 160 alumni teachers, and nearly 800 high school and college students are currently in the pipeline to become caring, competent, committed teachers and leaders.

Dr. Perkins is the recipient of many awards and proclamations acknowledging her outstanding achievement in Educational Leadership such as: the Special Parent Honoree Award by the NYS Education Department, the Pathfinder Award by the NYS Association of Women in Administration; the Milton A. Williams, Jr. Scholars in Education Award by the Westchester Children’s Museum, the Trailblazer Award by the NY Chamber of Commerce, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Westchester County, NY County Executive’s Office.  Most recently, Dr. Perkins is the recipient of the prestigious 2018 AARP Purpose Prize Founders Award for Intergenerational Excellence.

Dr. Perkins received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from North Carolina A&T State University, a Master of Science Degree in Education from Pace University, and a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership and Urban Policy from Fordham University. In May 2017, Dr. Perkins received an Honorary Degree in Pedagogy from Manhattan College where she delivered the commencement address to graduate students.

Dr. Perkins’ work was featured in the September 2016 American Federation of Teachers widely-read publication, The American Educator, “Growing the Next Generation: A Program Encourages Students of Color to Become Teachers".  Her work has been published by the American Association of School Personnel Administrators (AASPA) as a best practice for Human Capital Management Strategies, and by Harvard Business School for the significant economic value and the critical social impact TSTT has made on our society.

Her work has also been highlighted in several national and local media outlets such as the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, the Journal News, and the Westchester County Press.

Born and raised in South Carolina, Dr. Perkins and her husband, John, are avid tennis players and live in Hartsdale, New York.