Johnathon Hines was previously featured in a blog I wrote for EdLanta in October. We celebrated his accomplishments for becoming the first Black male Pre kindergarten teacher awarded Teacher of Year.
So what’s next? The question I posed to Greg Clay, one of the leaders for the Men of Book, a subgroup of the organization BOOK, Inc. BOOK is an organization that helps Black parents in Metro Atlanta find and advocate for better educational outcomes for their children.
One way to ensure we do what we say we are doing, is to uncover problems in the educational system that have been overlooked for so long and then implementing effective solutions.
In order for us to provide better educational outcomes for Black boys is to begin bringing in more Black male teachers into early learning classrooms. Hines agrees! He stated that a major factor that influenced his decision to become an educator was the lack of Black male teachers in the classrooms.
“It is so important for a positive, male role model to be involved in a child’s life in any facet. I wanted to be able to show children that a Black man does not have to play a professional sport to be successful or to have a major impact on this world. I wanted to show them that heroes and role models are teachers and that the most difficult plays happen in the classroom.”
The Men of BOOK are here to support this work. Holding school districts accountable to fair and equitable hiring policies is key. BOOK also helps bring families to schools that are providing better educational outcomes to kids. Clay states that increasing Black male teachers in the classroom reinforces positive black male role models for children of color—in addition to helping them see potential career paths.
It is true! The work of Black male teachers goes beyond the classroom. It goes far beyond the learning experience and curriculum. Schools that have Black male teachers on various grade levels connects to a bigger, stronger narrative of the impact Black male role models truly have in and around the Black community. We see Black males as everything else. Why not see us as teachers?
Clay believes that there is a negative narrative that exists in urban communities when it comes to Black male achievement. We truly have to consider, are we teaching our Black boys to be thugs? Is this the expectation that we have of them? The Men of Book believe that with more great, Black male teachers, this narrative is combated with real examples–influencing positive behaviors in students; especially among Black boys. This is such a critical issue!
More policy decisions around equity need to not only address this fact, but provide solutions that motivate more Black men to become educators at the onset of children entering the educational system.
To learn more of this work, please join BOOK for the Education Excellence and Leadership Annual Event, Wednesday, February 12, 2020, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m, at Park Tavern. The event will honor Jonathon Hines, Georgia’s First African American Male ”Pre-K Teacher of the Year” as the first recipient of the Addie Award, which recognizes individuals’ who have demonstrated excellence in education and leadership.
Kwame Johnson, President and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta (BBBSAtl), is the keynote speaker. In honor of National Mentoring Month, BOOK found it only fitting to partner with BBBSAtl in recognizing the positive impact Black male educators have on our children and the importance of mentoring.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.