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Life and Religion

Initiative molding gentlemen, scholars
Profound Gentlemen program lifts African Americans as teachers
Published Wednesday, November 9, 2016 7:17 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Profound Gentlemen participant Da’Nall Wilmer and his student. The initiative supports educators of color and encourages men to join the teaching ranks.

Profound Gentlemen provides a platform to assist and acknowledge male African American educators.

In addition to supporting educators of color, the nonprofit allows black men to see that becoming an educator is an option.

“A lot of them wonder, ‘is becoming a teacher even an option for me?’” Profound Gentleman co-CEO and director of programming Mario Jovan Shaw said. “If you don’t see it, it’s harder to believe it.”

Said co-CEO, and director of development Jason Terrell: “This work is hard. This work is real, but we can bring joy into the profession.”
Profound Gentlemen prioritize presenting the joy that education brings for students as well as teachers. In addition, they strive to reinforce positive images of African American men through social media.

“If we can’t keep them, then what’s the point?” Jovan Shaw said of the high turnover of teachers.

Said Juan Lascano, dean of students at Charlotte Learning Academy, a tuition-free public charter school: “Just having the access to other talented African American men who are in the area, who are looking to get into education for their first year, or those who are experienced educators, [Profound Gentlemen] provide suggestions that can make new teachers better. It is a challenge to continuously reiterate those things, but it is rewarding when you see progress.”

Said Shaw: “We have to show the joys of being in education.”

Based on their research, Profound Gentlemen has found that “96 percent of gentlemen believe that male educators of color play a huge role in the success of boys of color, and play a part in building a cradle to career pipeline.”

By working with educators like Lascano, the initiative reinforces the positives about African American men.

“It’s just a constant battle of the environment that our students see outside of school and the environment they see in school,” Lascano said. “It’s a constant reiteration of the reasons why we expect so much of them. In my school, we have uniforms, so trying to stress the importance of why you should wear your tie a certain way instead of another way, why you should walk on the right side of the hallway, why it’s important to maintain a high level of respect when talking to adults because oftentimes, they may not see that same life outside of our school. Just that constant battle of continuing to force those norms that we expect from them as students in school as well as in society.”

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Posted on November 14, 2016

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