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