Mid-South educators gathered for inaugural Man Up Black Male Educators summit
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Educators from across the Mid-South came together for the inaugural Man Up Black Male Educators summit on Saturday.
“Consider becoming the teacher you wish you had and knew you needed,” said Sharif El-Mekki CEO of the Center for Black Educator Development.
Man Up Teacher Fellowship started recruiting, training, and placing men of color in classrooms in 2018.
“Data and the research is clear for boys of color, in particular, if they have just one teacher of color, it increases their likelihood of going to college,” said Dr. Patrick Washington, Founder & CEO Man Up Teacher Fellowship. [ And it ]decreases their likelihood of dropping out of high school by 39 percent.”
State education officials said, of the 70,000 teachers in Tennessee, 15 percent are teachers of color, and just three percent are Black male teachers.
So far, Man Up has placed more than 115 teachers in schools, something officials say is major for the nonprofit.
“That’s extremely, extremely impactful,” said Dr. Diarese George, Executive Director of Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance. I think that’s a model that we need to think about replicating across the state in one regard but then also too, doing what they do as far as sustaining and making sure people are prepared for the profession.”
“We’re going to support you and build a network of other brothers who are like-minded and believe that this is not only advocacy work,” said Dr. Washington. “But it’s social justice work, it’s about creating more equitable opportunities for all students and particular students of color.”
Educators met at Crosstown High School where they were able to have open conversations about any challenges they may face.
“Unfortunately, too often there’s an added pressure to it,” Dr. Washington said. As a Black man, I was also at one time, the only black male teacher at a school in Memphis as a 4th-grade teacher, and there was this added pressure that -- there was a perception that being a Black male I could handle the most difficult students.”
Educators also had the chance to learn from other educators about how to communicate and engage with parents, as well as build communities in their classrooms.
El-Mekki says Memphis plays a critical role in rebuilding a national Black teacher pipeline.
“We know that mindsets matter most, and if we are able to support that in our students, they will in turn lift as they climb and become the next generation of black educators in this city as well as in the country,” said El-Mekki.
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