Michigan Radio

The teaching profession in America remains largely white and female. That means young African American males can go through school without ever seeing a teacher who looks like them.

Not only can this mean a lack of black role models, but it also means teaching doesn’t get held up as a profession that’s desirable for black men to pursue.

Curtis Lewis is trying to chance that narrative. He’s principal of Henry Ford Academy and founder and Chairman of the Board of the Black Male Educators Alliance of Michigan. He’s spent his career in education and has experienced first-hand what it’s like to be the only black male teacher in a school.

On the mission of the Black Male Educators Alliance of Michigan

“It is to develop an interest in younger black males. So we’re looking at a pipeline issue here, so we want to get our middle school, our high school students interested and seeing teaching as an option.

“We sort of do that through our mentoring program where we focus on cultivating that knowledge around what does it mean to be a teacher and why it’s important.

“And then also it’s important for them to see black males in education, right? For them to see themselves as this being a viable option.

“Once we’ve piqued their interest, [our mission is] also to work with various organizations and universities in recruiting black male teachers into the profession – so getting them into the teacher ed. programs, getting them into alternative certification programs.

“And then from there, we want to keep them. Some schools, some districts have made progress in getting males there, but they’ve often talked about not retaining them. Part of our mission is to provide a support system and a network, and give them all opportunity to learn from each other, to feel like they’re being supported so that we can retain them in the profession.”

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