Life and Religion
|Profound Gentlemen boost male teachers of color|
|Annual Soiree is major initiative fundraiser|
|Published Friday, November 15, 2019 11:16 pm|
|COURTESY PROFOUND GENTLEMEN|
|Profound Gentlemen, an initiative to lift male teachers of color, hosted their annual soiree Nov. 14 at UNC Charlotte.|
Profound Gentlemen is celebrating five years of advocating for male teachers of color.
Their annual Soiree at UNC Charlotte on Nov. 14 shared the mission and impact of the organization, stories from educators and students, as well as honor Professor of Urban Education at UNCC Chance Lewis.
“We were founded on Halloween of 2014,” said educator and Executive Director Jason Terrell. “We celebrated our fifth year a couple weeks ago, but are kicking off our Soiree, which is our annual fundraising event.
Much of Lewis’ work focuses on the retention and recruitment of black male educators.
“When we started the program, we used a lot of Dr. Chance Lewis’ research to create the program model,” Terrell said. “How it looks this year is we are supporting about 60 men of color who teach in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and throughout schools in Charlotte. We work with teachers who teach in the charter sector, the private sector, as well as the public school sector. We give them intense support through either recruitment strategies or development strategies to get on the path of leadership over time. We use a lot Dr. Lewis’ research to fuel and propel our program model.”
Terrell touched on their aspirations to expand support to CMS teachers, noting discussions with Superintendent Earnest Winston on how to recruit and maintain male educators of color.
“This year we’re really thinking about, ‘how do we leverage partnerships, particularly with CMS, to support more educators?’” Terrell said. “Our goal is to increase the support or teachers here in Charlotte.”
Charlotte schools are filled with teachers who do not look like their students. Profound Gentlemen’s goal for the next five years is to cultivate a workforce of teachers who reflect its
majority minority enrollment. CMS consists of 175 schools, 19,163 employees and 148,299 students. African Americans account for 38.1% of enrollment followed by white students at 28% and Hispanics at 24.1%.
“We want to see how we can get folks interested in the profession as early as high school,” Terrell said. “Our vision is that we will have a robust pipeline of teachers who are coming into CMS, starting at high school, going through college—not only teaching in the district, but teaching and leading the district.”
Retention is a key issue for black male educators, which Terrell described as a four-part problem.
“The first is a lack of professional development,” he said. “Often times when you have a male in a school, especially a male of color, they are placed in a disciplinary role. They’re ISS teachers. They might be the informal behavioral coordinators, but you don’t see a lot of these men reach positions of academic dean or lead teacher. They don’t have an opportunity to truly develop.”
Terrell identified school culture as the second reason.
“Sometimes you don’t feel like you’re valued in school, like you don’t have a voice to advocate for students and to advocate for changes,” Terrell said. “We definitely want to see the school culture change, and a lot of that has to do with leadership locally. Making sure that principals are staying at schools longer, and that principals have strong strategic plans to help with culture.”
Curriculum also creates an issue.
“Having the ability to teach in a way that your students can grasp—often we have this teach for the test model,” Terrell said. “Teachers don’t have the flexibility to be innovative, to be creative, to bring in life experiences that reflect their students.”
The fourth and final key issue is pay.
“Teachers want to be compensated well, like every other profession,” Terrell said. “A lot of pay is tied with your performance and leadership positions—they’re all tied together. Making sure we have robust career ladders and very clear pay scales, and that we’re valuing our teachers through our dollars is really important.”
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