I am entering my fourth year as a principal and my ninth year in education. I was originally driven into the profession as a result of the lack of black male educators that I had growing up. I wanted to be the black teacher for students that I did not have. I even spent a brief time during my teaching career helping to launch a nonprofit to develop more black male educators.
When I became a principal, I knew I was in a position to not only encourage black male educators but now, to hire them. Nationally, the number of black male teachers is around 2%, and here in Indiana, the percentage is even lower. I have always wondered, with the emphasis on how black boys perform in school, are we considering the lack of black male educators in the classroom as being a possible reason for the results we are seeing?
Lately, conversations have resurfaced about the impact of integration in schools. Often overlooked is the fact that when schools were integrated, black educators were pushed out. Many of those exiled were black male teachers and as we know, the destroying of black men in society had begun.
Black communities thrived when black men were stalwarts in the community. Many of these black male educators not only led in the school but also in their communities.
This year, I made an emphasis to ensure that students at the school I lead will have the opportunity to be taught by black men. I am beyond excited for the 2019-2020 staff at Tindley Summit Academy. This school year my school will have five black men in the classroom.
Did I mention my school is an elementary school serving students in grades kindergarten through sixth grade? Having black men in schools is rare, but having black men in elementary schools is even more unique.
I have learned that being a black male educator, my presence means something. I see myself as someone who is disrupting the narrative. The narrative that too many hold that sees all black men as rappers and athletes. The narrative that sees black men as absent in the home. The narrative that black men are not leaders in the community.
It is a privilege and honor to serve as Principal at Tindley Summit Academy, alongside these five tremendous black males educators. Read below some words from this ‘Fab 5’ of black men at Tindley Summit Academy:
Ryan Miller- 5th Grade Teacher
For me, it is important to be a black male educator because nationwide only about two percent of teachers are African-American men. Students of color make up about half of the nation’s student population. Students of color need to see more men pushing for a great education. Only about 60 percent of black males are graduating high school in our country. Black boys desperately need to see a man who looks like them in the classroom. Black male teachers are not the end-all-be-all, but they can make a huge difference in how black children and in particular, black boys, value education.
Anthony Wallace – Special Education Lead Teacher
First and foremost, it is a privilege and an honor to be an educator. To be a teacher in an elementary setting is a distinct honor! To be in a position where individuals look up to you, hang on to your every word, love you one minute and think you are the strictest teacher ever the next is such an experience. I love the opportunity to mold and shape the beginning of a child’s educational experience. I love the fact that I am someone who not only looks like them but can relate to them and as I stand before them, represent a stat or idea they don’t see a lot of; a black male teaching! I love having the opportunity and challenge to be a father-figure, mentor, big brother, and conductor of knowledge to an age group that is so impressionable! This is where they begin to develop a love for learning, and I delight in being a facilitator of creating that passion for learning inside of these kids!
Shawn Haliburton – STEM Teacher
I didn’t have many black male educators growing up until college. I wanted to get into education to provide the next generation something I didn’t have. I have a passion for helping kids learn the best way I can and hope to impact the current scholars by being that positive black role model that they can learn and grow from. I believe this is very important because it’ll show them that they can grow up and become a teacher too if they have the passion for it also, instead of always looking to be an athlete or rapper.
Nicholas Carothers- Physical Education Teacher
The greatest thing about being African-American male and educator to me is that I can give back to young men and women who look like me, who went through struggles that I went through, and face the same challenges, socio-economically and educationally that I encountered. This opportunity gives our scholars a man who looks like them, who’s been through what they’ve been through, and a role model that I never had coming up. I never had a black male teacher or administrator! I only had a few African-American coaches that did not work in the school, that weren’t there to help me academically and who didn’t understand the struggles that I went through being raised by a single mother and having an abusive father. I grew up surrounded by drugs and gangs, attempting to stop me from being successful academically, but I persevered in doing the right thing academically and morally. There was no man there to help me and guide me through that part of my life. I feel like if I would have had someone to help me navigate these obstacles, I would have been the top of my class!
Tyler Baker- Relay Resident Teacher 3-6
As a well-educated Black Man, I view teaching as a privilege. I am thankful to have had many individuals step in and share their time and wisdom with me. I intend to teach to give back to my community. I fuse the wisdom of each of my mentors, and I carry lessons from my own experience. I plan to share them.
I have never tried to replace a black man that our students have or do not have at home. My primary purpose is to give them a positive influence and role model at school. I am really excited about this school year and for the number of black men that will be impacting the 300+ students we will welcome. I look forward to increasing the number of black men that teach at my school each year. I am doing my small part to increase that 2%.