Maryland said it’s working to recruit more black men to work as educators in the state.

The nation’s education secretary renewed his call this week for more black men to become teachers. They currently make up only 2 percent of educators nationwide.

For the most part, Maryland is in same boat, but there are some exceptions.

There are currently a few more than 2,300 black men working as educators in the state, which is down from five years ago when the number was almost 2,800.

Howard County may be an exception. It’s only one of a handful of state school systems where the numbers are on the rise. The county has 87 black men educating this year, which is up from 73 in 2005.

Arthur Milton is a black fifth-grade teacher at Phelps Luck Elementary School in Howard County. He said there’s a reason why he chose to teach and why he’s stayed at the job for 14 years.

“It is a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding. When you get to be a model for these kids, that is your success. Once they come back to you years later and you see what they have become, or even while they were with you and you see their growth, that’s your reward,” he said.

Howard County officials said they’ll continue to go after black male teachers in the future.

“Our recruiting season actually begins right around now — January and February — and we are working with candidates for months so that we are able to open our schools almost 99 percent or 100 percent fully staffed every August. So, in some respects, it is similar to an NFL draft season,” said Ernesto Diaz, the county’s manager for teacher recruitment.

There’s hope coming from historical black universities such as Morgan State, where its School of Education is seeing a new trend toward teaching.

“There is a concerted effort on this campus to support the male student, the male learner, and we are going to see evidence of that in the increased number of students who enter teaching careers,” said Morgan State School of Education Dean Patricia Welch.

In some areas, careers in teaching are starting to offer higher pay and more benefits.

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