HBCU students, faculty, and alumni are more than aware of the impact that studying while surrounded by those with cultural similarities can have on Black students as they advance their collegiate careers. With a new program aimed at increasing the number of Black, male teachers, North Carolina Central University is one campus in particular looking to make even greater strides in the representation Black students see in the classroom.
In August of last year, NCCU launched The Marathon Teaching Institute as a part of the university’s School of Education. The program provides mentorship, training, and a $25,000 scholarship. Designed as a pipeline to funnel more Black men with an interest in education directly into the classroom, the new initiative additionally guarantees immediate job placement to participants upon completion.
Chief recruiting and retention officer, Quentin Murphy, says the project has been two years in the making.
“We want to make sure that we have that same strength towards preparing our teachers for their futures right here on this campus,” he said.
Chester Crowder, a senior year elementary education major says that it took him until high school to become acquainted with a Black teacher.
“That was my first time having an African American [teacher] that wasn’t a coach,” Crowder told Ebony magazine in October of 2021.. He further explained that having a Black male teacher earlier on would have changed his academic trajectory. “I feel like everything would’ve been different. Especially the way I learned in class and the way I enjoyed education would’ve been different.”
Director of the African American Male Initiative at NCCU’s Men’s Achievement Center, Roderick Heath makes the claim that education needs to be prioritized in America’s underserved communities.
“As I started digging into my research on non-cognitive behaviors (attitudes and skills not measured on tests), I looked at how important it was to have a male figure, or even a teacher, throughout your K to 12 journey,” Heath said. “A lot of these young men didn’t have one other than in sports.”
Currently, interested students must be Black and male identifying education majors with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. They must also commit to volunteering at local schools during their junior and senior years, and accepting their teaching posts within the city of Durham.