The lack of minority men teaching in the classroom is a growing problem nationwide. IU South Bend is hoping to change that locally though.

The university’s vision is to help minority male students pursue teaching and then place them. The goal is for the future educators to be an example to the students who may have never seen a teacher that looks like them.

“We need more minority teachers, we need more African American teachers,” said Dr. Carole Schmidt, Superintendent of the South Bend School Corporation.

It is no secret, the people at the front of the classroom, aren’t representative of the ones at the desks.

“There’s a real mismatch I would say, between the student population and the teaching population, in terms of diversity,” said Marvin Lynn, IU South Bend’s Dean of Education.

Terrance Harley is a business major at the university, grew up in South Bend, but never had a black male teacher.

“We didn’t have a black role model to look up to, as far as teachers are concerned,” said Harley.

Dean Lynn is working to make sure that does not happen to more students in our area.

“We’re trying to raise $1 million so that we can endow a scholarship and invite five young people into our university a year.”

Those five young people will all be men of color. If accepted to the program they will receive a scholarship that covers half their tuition, they’ll receive mentoring from university and community teachers, and be paid during local summer internships. There is a catch though, they have to give back.

“They can be from wherever, but they need to commit to working in St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties,” said Lynn.

There is no specific timetable as to how long they have to teach, but Lynn says he hopes it will be for the entirety of their careers.

Recruiting African American men to teach is a problem nationwide, and our area reflects that trend.

Mishawaka & P-H-M have zero African American male teachers, but they have the smallest racial gap when comparing the teachers and students.

Meanwhile, South Bend and Elkhart have more teachers, but are even further from accurately reflecting the diversity in their student bodies. Not one school system – between South Bend, Mishawaka, P-H-M, Elkhart, and Goshen – has more than 10% teachers of color. The superintendents say it is not for lack of trying.

“Over the last two years we have been very aggressive in trying to recruit [minorities], but we haven’t had as much success as we need to have,” said Superintendent Schmidt.

Dean Lynn says the program will not only fill a need in the classrooms, but hopefully break the cycle.

“Young people of color are not going to necessarily see teaching as something that’s possible for them because they don’t see people that look like them in the classrooms.”

The ‘IU South Bend underrepresented teachers scholarship program’ hopes to be up and running by 2017. They are in the very early stages of fundraising for the scholarships. They currently have one gift of $25,000 towards their goal of one million.

For more information, or to donate, contact IU South Bend’s School of Education.