This week Atlanta teacher Jermaine walked into his classroom and found a letter on his desk that one of his students wrote to him.
To Mr. J
Thank you for being a awesome teacher and for being amazing! This school year was so fun and I enjoyed it because of you. I wish more teachers was like you. I will never forget you. I look at you like my Dad. I never met my real Dad but it okay Because you treat me like im your son. You make me so happy. Always feeding me when i am hungry and hug me when I am sad. I will never forget you Mr. J. I love you and I will never forget about you!
Jermaine is a teacher in Atlanta and helps make up the less than 2 percent of teachers that are Black male educators. Even though students of color now make up a majority of students in public schools, teachers remain disproportionally female (75 percent) and white (83 percent).
We know the benefit of having a Black male educator extends from Black students seeing themselves reflected in the classroom to the fact that having at least one Black teacher in third through fifth grades reduces a Black student’s probability of dropping out of school by 29 percent, and for very low-income Black boys, their chances of dropping out falls by 39 percent.
So I walked in the classroom and found this letter on the desk that one of my kids wrote me and… I tried so hard not tear up pic.twitter.com/QTbQ6kZ2bH
— . (@mainey_maine) April 24, 2017
And let’s not get it twisted—Black male educators don’t just benefit Black students, they benefit white students, too. Chicago Principal Robert Croston thinks more Black male educators can reduce stereotypes of Black men and influence policy decisions when it comes to police brutality and socio-economic conditions.
The point is: Black male educators can and do make a difference. And we need to not only celebrate that, like Jermaine’s student did, but encourage it. Like Sharif El-Mekki, a Black male educator in Philadelphia says, more Black males need to answer the call and teach.