Non-Profit Recruits Black Male Educators To Boost Men’s Presence And Leadership In The School System

A little over 1% of educators in the nation are Black men.

As part of Fox 17‘s Path Forward initiative, the television station examined the statistics of Black men leading in the education space and how organizations such as the Black Male Educators Alliance are working to recruit more Black men to take on leadership roles in schools and classrooms.

BMEA was founded in 2017 by Curtis Lewis, Ph.D., to transform the education experience for Black and Brown students by developing culturally responsive educators dedicated to the growth of the youth. BMEA’s initial target is to increase the number of Black males in Michigan classrooms, and it has expanded to creating culturally sustaining policies, structured programming, and teacher pedagogy. The nonprofit’s programs include school partnerships, leadership events, and wellness sessions for teachers and principals.

“We’re trying to create this pipeline; we also try to keep those who are already in the profession there as well,” Lewis said, noting that the way to diversify the profession is by changing the way things are done.

Seventh and eighth-grade science teacher William Childers is the only Black man teaching at Riverside Middle School in Grand Rapids, and he said people think it is uncommon to see someone like him working as an educator in STEM. The parents are appreciative of Childers being an example for his students.

“They just don’t see too many things, and that’s part of the cultural and the equity part. A lot of them just see basketball and football players,” Childers said. “Does it make me do my job differently? No. Because I’m just trying to affect the students that I have.”

According to Jason McGhee, Ed.D, a Black principal at Innovation Central High School, representation is important. “We have about 52% of our student population are Spanish speaking, Latino, Latina. About 38% are Black. So, for those high numbers, especially those Black boys and girls, I’m their principal,” McGhee said.

“I don’t have any Black male educators in the building, but I do have Black male support staff. My assistant principal is a Black man. I have youth advocates and a college adviser who is a Black man. So, when we look at other schools in our supportive roles, absolutely. In the classroom, not so much,” he added. “What Dr. Lewis is doing in Detroit—we need to keep those organizations pumped, we need to keep those organizations like the Black Male Educators Alliance funded, we need to keep those organizations going,” said McGhee.