North Carolina Central University, an HBCU in Durham, recently introduced a program to recruit and prepare Black male students for teaching and administrative positions in schools.
Marathon Teaching Institute aims to address the striking deficit of African American educators in America.
“A very small percentage of the nation’s elementary school teachers are from a broader, more diverse background – particularly African-American male teachers, who represent fewer than 2% of the nation’s public school teachers,” according to the program’s website. “This means that many students from diverse backgrounds, as well as African American boys, will go through their entire education without having a teacher who looks like them.”
This was the case for MTI cohort and scholarship-winner Chester Crowder, who did not have a Black male teacher until high school.
“That was my first time having an African American [teacher] that wasn’t a coach,” said Crowder, a NCCU elementary education major, in an Ebony article.
Currently in his senior year, Crowder feels “everything would’ve been different” if he learned from a Black male teacher in his early education, according to Ebony.
Crowder earned MTI’s 25,000-dollar scholarship for his high GPA and ongoing volunteer work at Durham’s Lakewood Elementary School.
White students are two and a half times more likely to graduate from public colleges in the U.S. than Black students, according to NBC News. As for high school, data from National Center for Education Statistics reveals the graduation rate for Black students is below the national average.
“Look at Black males dropping out of school, the graduation rates. If we have some strong men in the building to curb some of these behaviors and even to give them a conversation,” said NCCU’s African American Male Initiative Director Roderick Heath to The News and Observer. “It’s all about being relatable.”
Prospective MTI cohorts must be minority males majoring in a subset of education or counseling with at least a 2.7 GPA. Candidates also must participate in community service with NCCU’s Male Achievement Center. The center aided 600 Black men through graduation. The African American Male Initiative, a program within the center, boasts an 89.9% retention rate.
“We’re going to knock on doors, we’re going to go in homes, we’re going to go just like a coach would to recruit players,” Heath told the news outlet. “But we’re gonna recruit minority males to come to North Carolina Central and teach.”