Black Boys Can Grow Up to Be Teachers; If We Let them Live!

Th
is school year has impacted students socially and emotionally through the loss of school community. Many students need the school community to support their academic success, mental health and overall structure for their lives. The main purpose of schools is to teach and model for our students how the community works and how to live in a community. 

Students learn how to socialize mainly in school. When schools closed, the practice and art of socialization in a community was lost. Emotionally, students did not have the support such as team sports, guidance counselors, therapists, administrators and especially teachers.

Dr. Marc McMillan's story is a testament to the powerful work male educators of color are doing in and out of classrooms across the Nation.  As a Dean of Students in the D.C. area., Marcus not only helps to influence social and emotional growth but also the academic successes of his students. 

"We are Kings", a phrase often used by Dr.McMillan to his Black male students. He shares his reflections as a part of the Profound Gentlemen storytelling series.

Why did you start teaching?
I have always wanted to be a teacher. Ever since I was a little boy, I would play school at home even after a long day of school. I cannot really begin to pinpoint the beginning of my love for teaching because it goes as far back as I can remember. When I got older, I entered the teaching profession because I really wanted to see my people get out of poverty. 

My mother was working on her college degree while I was in elementary school. She would take me to the library with her while she studied. As I watched her read and study, it had a profound impact on me. A couple of years later, I saw how her education helped to pull our family out of poverty and into a better position in life. Since that moment, my purpose was solidified and I realized how important education was and still is today for helping people to become more free and dismantling poverty. 

Many of our youth need role models in and out of the classroom. As a male educator of color, when your students look back on their K-12 experience, what's something you want them to remember of you that may potentially inspire them to be a teacher? 

I want them to look back at the impact that I had on them as a teacher and as a dean of students. There have been many students who come back to tell me about how I helped to shape their life trajectories in positive ways. This is not to boast. I am humbled by life experiences and how I got here. This is why I teach and lead my students the way that I do. I always kept and still keep it real with them. You inspire people by making education personal and relatable. We can’t just teach content to pass tests and to get a grade.


What is an interesting hobby of yours that's helping you cope with the pandemic and racial inequality in America? I love working out at the gym when they opened in my city. It helped me to focus on myself and try to take my focus off of the trouble and chaos that we found ourselves in during the racial pandemic and biological pandemic. We all need to turn off the television at some point to detoxify from the images of death and violence.


Organizations such as PG, are advocating for more male educators of color in classrooms. What impact do we have in public schools?

When I was a teacher, I taught my students as if their lives depended on it. For the many students that I was entrusted in my care as teacher and today as a dean, I hope they remember our many real-life lessons conversations and how I took my time to help each of them find out their purpose in life. It could be me helping them with a college application, scholarships, military entry exams or preparing them for the workforce. I want them to remember how much I care for them. It is my moral duty when I took the oath to become a teacher.


Does our presence in schools impact student achievement?

They get a chance to see someone who is just like them. I came from poverty and was raised by my single mother and grandparents. I have locs and tattoos. I want them to see me. A man who has had his share of discipline problems and was hurt by his father is now removing obstacles so that they can receive their education. They have a dean who speaks their language.


They see me in their community outside of the school, and I dress just like them. I wear the newest sneakers and can “wrap” to them about what they are going through. I believe that I am a walking billboard of how the struggle doesn’t have to defeat them. I want them to see that you can be the little boy who grew up in similar situations and can be the man with his doctorate and fulfilling his purpose in life. 


What is one stereotype about Black boys that you work to dispel as a dean?

I want to teach Black boys that we can dream and accomplish those dreams. I was in their shoes once. I want to dispel the belief that  Black boys who come from certain neighborhoods, raised in poverty by their single-parent and other lack of support can be successful and defy the negative images of who we are as Black men. 

We are kings! 

We don’t have to wear pants below our waist, be unable to express our emotions, continue vicious cycles and end up in prison or dead. I want our young Black kings to know that they are worthy of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. We can be mentally healthy, smart, intelligent, articulate, wealthy, possess high morals and integrity, walk in authority and purpose and be amazing fathers to our next generations. 

We are KINGS!

Comments

  1. Congratulations on your promotion Doc. I know you'll continue the work in your next area.

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