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Black Principals: How to Strengthen the Leadership Pipeline
STEP 2: PINPOINT NEW EDUCATORS
It all starts with increasingly diversifying the workforce (teachers, counselors, coaches, etc.) in our schools, and that means improving our recruitment methods. Nationally only 7 percent of teachers identify as black, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. If we break these numbers down even further, less than 2 percent of the teaching force consists of African American males.
Where are we supposed to find black principals if there are no black teachers in our schools? To give you an idea of our situation at Bruce Elementary, I have roughly 400 scholars enrolled in Pre-K through fifth grade. Meanwhile, I have a total of just four black male educators in the building, including myself. Although this number appears low on the surface, I actually have more black male teachers than most schools.
We must do a better job about recruiting African Americans in our communities who desire to enter the classroom. This is where local and national programs like MTR (Memphis Teacher Residency) and Teach for America come into play. They have been strategic about where and how we pursue potential teachers, while making a conscious effort to fill vacancies with educators of color.
We must also make the profession and field enticing enough to turn recruits’ intrigue into an inspired decision to join us. Profound Gentlemen, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit co-founded by two black educators, creates mentorship opportunities for aspiring African American teachers and engages in state-level advocacy in six regions: Memphis, Charlotte, Chicago, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Washington, D.C. As a board member, it has been encouraging to see them working on awarding fellowships to African American male college students who commit to working in K-12 education.
Looking back, there were so many people who pushed, guided, motivated, and believed in me—as well as those who doubted me—before I made it to this position. But I always think of Mr. Nixon and Mr. Morris, and the lasting effect they had on my life. As I pass that gift onto others, I hope I will not be alone. It will take all of us in order for the next generation of black school leaders to make a profound impact on our nation. And it starts now.