Though Teacher Appreciation week is about every single teacher knowing they are appreciated, I want to take a moment to give a shout out to the 2% – we see y’all out there!
The greatest part of the work that I do at Teach901 is connecting with passionate, future educators who are eager to take on the adventure of teaching in a classroom – especially as a product of an urban public school education myself.
Teaching students like me was never easy because I was a full-time class clown and part-time student.
It was amazing educators who could take the most rambunctious minds, like my own, and guide them towards discovering their purpose – P.S.- There’s hope for that class clown you have in 4th period after all! When you think about it, educators play a huge part in shaping the minds and identities of entire civilizations – changing trajectories of family paths, opening our eyes to possibilities beyond our environment, and challenging the limitations we set for ourselves; that’s a big deal – YOU ARE A BIG DEAL!
Another neat part of the recruiting we do is our awareness of the demographics in our classrooms and the need for students to have teachers that reflect their own identity. In other words, we are mindful of the fact that the majority of the student population we serve are minorities, the biggest being African American. Having diverse experiences of learning is key for any young growing mind, and whilst also true, having experiences of learning from teachers you identify with culturally and ethnically is also critical.
When I was in school, I didn’t notice the scarcity of black male teachers. I just noticed that they were cool and would always mix life lessons in with school lessons when given the opportunity; meaningful teaching and learning experiences intertwined in a style I connected with. Now that I am on the side of recruiting and retaining teachers with Teach901, I understand why we need to be mindful about making sure we diversify classrooms with teachers that reflect a majority-black student community – especially black men.
- Mr. Anderson– 6th grade gym teacher and coach of the step team. He made me the captain of the step team and taught me that I could be a leader. His lessons stayed with me forever.
- Mr Robertson– 7th grade band teacher. He allowed me to have a sense of humor… if I earned it. He taught me that I could be anything if I took myself serious enough. His lessons stayed with me forever.
- Principal Carson– 8th grade. He taught me discipline – oh and we are talking the last year school corporal punishment was still in effect. Right, OUCH! But he always instilled wisdom in me and spoke to the man he knew I would become. His lessons stayed with me forever.
- Coach Hill– High school football coach. He taught me that anything other than greatness comes with consequences. I learned this through having to do up-down drills when lazy on a play. He taught me to do it right the first time. His lessons stayed with me forever.
- Mr. Robinson– 12th grade choir teacher. He taught me to expect nothing short of excellence as a standard for everything you do. Mr. Robertson unlocked the boundaries of my mind and let me know it was okay to expect excellence of myself and nothing else. His lessons stayed with me forever.
- Mr. Scruggs– 12th grade social studies teacher. He taught me it was okay to be spiritual and believe in a higher power. He taught me to be silly, to be loud, to be focused, and to be motivated. Check out the video below. He’s still got it! His lessons stayed with me forever!
The reality is, according to statistics, students, no matter their race or ethnicity, don’t get many chances to have the experience of learning from black male educators. The diversity you bring to the classroom goes beyond skin. Your genuine guidance, your creative and cool teaching style, and your sincere heart to passionately connect and transform anyone all bring more diversity to the overall learning experience in Memphis.
While the percentage may be small, the impact that you have in our classrooms is big.
So to the 2% of male educators of color making a huge impact in our schools, be it helping young class clowns to learn life-long lessons from someone that they can identify with, breaking down stereotypes and mental barriers of what a black man is through love, wisdom and guidance, or be it simply bringing your own swag to the classroom and creating a safe, fun, and unique learning experience…
In the 901, we thank you for being amazing role models and heroes for our future generation.