SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. - There's a shortage of African American male teachers in the classroom.
Currently, Shelby County Schools has almost 6,000 educators but only a little over 10% of them are black men.
SCS staff said they're working with the local universities and even community groups like the Man-Up Teacher Fellowship to get more black men not just hired, but supported, so they stay in the classroom.
Teaching math isn't always easy, but Derrick Squaire said he's passionate about turning this challenging subject into a fun activity.
He's a teacher at Promise Academy Spring Hill and he knows he's one of kind – a black male teacher.
Right now, there are more than 5,800 teachers working at Shelby County Schools, less than 800 are black men – that's about 12%.
"It's not the lack of the black males who want to do it, it's the lack of opportunity as far as finance being that barrier," Squaire explained.
The Man Up Teacher Fellowship is addressing that financial barrier by covering the cost for master's degrees and teaching certifications for its fellows. Squaire is one of the latest fellows this year.
The district is working with Man Up along with local universities to hire, support, and retain 50 black male teachers for Kindergarten to 5th grade by 2020.
Dr. Michael Lowe is an SCS Equity Officer, he told FOX13, "In 2017 having an African American male teacher for a student of color K-5 will increase their chances going to college by 30%. So, we know having a mirror, someone who looks like me and a window to see what I can be."
SCS Human Resources released the following statement concerning African American male teachers:
We have enacted a retention task force that includes district leaders from HR, the Office of Schools, Professional Development Department, Principals and Teachers to drive the work as it relates to teacher retention. The team is working to be intentional about using data to track data and strategically plan and implement teacher retention strategies.
Benefits, Culture, Climate and Incentives are key to encourage teachers to remain in the district. In addition to the numerous employee reward and incentive programs, we will be implementing a Data Driven Talent Management Staffing Dashboard which allows school and district leaders to monitor and track retention data. Schools that have experienced retention and culture climate difficulties will receive targeted support from the Office of School Leadership and their ILDs, as well as targeted and aligned PD and support for teachers and school leaders.
Back in Mr. Squaire's classroom, he said one of his biggest goals is connecting with his students – and impact that goes beyond his classroom.
Squaire's explained, "There are different paths in life you can take, you don't have to take the path given to you, you can reach out and become an educator or be a doctor, nurse that's what I try to show my students there are better routes you can take."
The school district's human resources team is also developing an African American male and Latino recruitment plan.
That plan includes to following:
- We will recruit African American males in grades K-5 to diversify our teacher pipeline.
- Goals: Induct, support and retain 50 black male educators in grades K-5 for 2020
- Strategies: Partner with Man-Up, Univ. of Memphis, LeMoyne –Owen, and HBCUs to attract and recruit
- Support and retain our black male teachers during our Educator Fellowship
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