Pilot Program to Prepare Future Teachers of Color

September 03, 2009

Wheelock College is pleased to announce the creation of a new initiative aimed at increasing the number of African American and Hispanic male teachers in our nation's schools. Called The Leadership Academy for Future Educators, the program kicked off this summer with 10 male high school students of color from Boston and New York who have expressed interest in pursuing a career in education.

Wheelock has partnered with Eagle Academy for Young Men in New York City (South Bronx), as well as Boston Public Schools to choose rising 11th graders to participate in this program. The College anticipates adding an additional class in the spring of 2010.

"There are two persistent, pervasive and systemic issues that confront our public education system as we know it," said Wheelock President Jackie Jenkins-Scott. "There is a dearth of African American and Hispanic males teaching all of our children and boys of color are losing in the game of academic achievement. We at Wheelock hope to have a part in changing that."

Consider:

  • Only 1.5 percent of education degrees given in 2006 went to men of color, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • Of the nation's 4.8 million teachers, only 2 percent are black men, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Just 5 percent of undergraduates enrolled in college in 2004 were black men, while another 5 percent were Hispanic men, according to the American Council of Education.

Experts say that the shortage of male teachers of color compounds the academic difficulties that many Hispanic and African American boys face in school, including their tendency to score lower on standardized tests and drop out of school at higher rates. Males of color teaching in the classroom serve as valuable authority figures, help students feel that they belong, motivate them to achieve, provide them with role models and mentors and demonstrate positive male-female relationships to girls of color.

The young men chosen for the Leadership Academy gathered for an eight-day retreat earlier this month, where they engaged in classes on leadership and teamwork, learned about career and college exploration and heard from other males of color on what a career in education can bring. In addition to spending time on Wheelock's Boston campus, the students spent a weekend at The Sportsmen's Club of Greater Boston, a private camp situated on beautiful Lake Cobbosseecontee in West Gardiner, Maine. Founded in 1915 by a group of African American Pullman porters who wanted to create a place where they could vacation with their families and friends free from the confines of the then-closed American society, the camp gave the students a "rite of passage" experience that provided an opportunity for exploration and bonding.

The students will engage in similar activities throughout the school year, and Wheelock has dedicated financial aid resources for participants who apply to college there. Organizers hope that the program will motivate the students to attend college and major in education, thus building the pipeline of African American and Hispanic male teachers.

"Research has shown that male teachers of color can have a positive impact on the academic achievement of children of color," said Wheelock's Vice President for Enrollment Management and Chief Diversity Officer, Dr. Adrian K. Haugabrook. "In expanding that pipeline, Wheelock's Leadership Academy for Future Educators will have a positive impact on the lives of today's students and the next generation of learners."

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