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What it Takes to Retain Black Male Teachers
Mario Jovan Shaw recalls instantly bonding with Jason Terrell from the moment they met as 2012 Charlotte corps members. Nearly six years later, they continue to bond over what it means to be a male educator of color.
“We were TFA institute roommates—that’s how we ended up coming together,” Shaw says. “We’d have long conversations talking about education and our philosophies really matched with one another.”
Many lifelong friendships are forged during summer training, when corps members form strong bonds with one another through the shared intense experience. For Terrell and Shaw, this corps experience not only brought them together but led them to do something much bigger. “I really fell in love with teaching once I got into the classroom,” Terrell reflects. “The part that I fell in love with was the relationship I had with my young men. They saw me as a role model of success and opened my eyes to the impact that I had on their lives. Some I still mentor and talk to today.”
In 2014 they co-founded Profound Gentlemen, a Charlotte-based nonprofit organization on a mission to “build a community of male educators of color who provide a profound additional impact on boys of color.” The program creates a space for members to build relationships with other male educators of color and to ultimately reshape the narrative for black students in their schools. “Our students really drove us to start Profound Gentlemen,” Terrell says.
A Pivotal Year
Profound Gentlemen has ambitious goals for the year ahead and hopes to have 90 percent of its members return to the education profession the fall of 2018. They want to see 90 percent of boys of color who are mentored by a Gentleman matriculate through their K-12 experience prepared for college and be exposed to career opportunities.
Terrell and Shaw continue to push toward a vision of systemic change. “We want to impact the system in which our educators and students live and work in,” Terrell says. “Profound Gentlemen is a small piece of a larger systemic issue.”
The founders are looking ahead to the future and what it will take for the organization to be sustainable. “This is long-term work,” Terrell says. “Every year things change and we learn that there is more work that needs to be done. Right now men of color in education is kind of like the flavor of the month. I want to create a space where this issue is here to stay.”