Representation in the education space matters, and a historically Black university is putting the focus on ensuring that students at public schools see themselves reflected in their teachers. According to JBHE, North Carolina Central University recently unveiled a program designed to increase the representation of Black male teachers.
The initiative—dubbed the Marathon Teaching Institute—was created to address the racial gaps in educational leadership by empowering more African American males to pursue careers in teaching. Although research shows Black and brown students do better academically when they have a teacher who looks like them, teacher shortages are plaguing public schools throughout the country. Nationally, only 2 percent of teachers are Black men. In the state of North Carolina, 43 percent of K-12 public school students are Black and Latinx, however, only 20 percent of teachers come from diverse backgrounds.
Aware of the statistics and determined to ensure children of color have successful academic outcomes, the North Carolina-based HBCU launched the Marathon Teaching Institute. Through the program, participants are provided with an array of opportunities to advance their careers in education, including mentoring, networking and enrichment seminars; all aimed at developing the next generation of impactful Black leaders who will shape the landscape of education. The institute was also launched to encourage participants to enter North Carolina Central University’s Teacher Education Program.
“As I started digging into my research on non-cognitive behaviors, attitudes and skills not measured on tests, I looked at how important it was to have a male figure, or even a teacher, throughout your K to 12 journey,” Roderick Heath, who serves as the Director of the African American Male Initiative at NCCU’s Men’s Achievement Center, told News Observer. “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. It’s all about being relatable.”