By Gwendolyn Glenn - WFAE

Nationwide, only 1.3% of all teachers are Black men, and that percentage is falling. In addition, nearly half of Black male teachers said they were planning to leave the classroom, according to a 2021 Rand Corporation report.

Profound Gentlemen, PG, is a national nonprofit organization based in Charlotte that works to recruit, retain and support Black male teachers. In the past two years, membership has grown from 700 Black male teachers to 1,000 today. Membership is free and once a month, PG provides three Black male teachers with grants from $500 to $1,000 to use for certification costs, school supplies or other needs. They also provide mentorships, professional development workshops and conferences.

Dylan Holmes, the group’s executive director, says 90% of the men they work with are staying on the job. But he says the shortage of Black male teachers is still dire.

“We’re looking at a crisis situation of African American male teachers and other male teachers of color,” Holmes said. “We’ve seen almost a 5% decrease of African American male teachers in North Carolina alone over the last several years.”

Holmes says isolation at their schools is a main reason many Black male teachers give for leaving the classroom, so Profound Gentleman brings the members together in various settings across the country to give them a sense of community and support. He says they also have secured partnerships with several school districts across the country.

“We’re working with superintendents and principals in school districts in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Boston to help them with retention,” Holmes said. “We asked each of them to give us five gentlemen who are in their first five years of teaching and one seasoned educator to help develop the newer teachers and for all to share info with other Black male teachers in their districts.”

Holmes adds that it’s important to have a teacher of color because it helps students of color to have someone of authority who looks like them. Many African American students, including Holmes, who is working on his dissertation, have never had a teacher of color.

“Studies indicate that prior to the fourth grade, African American students who have a Black teacher are four to five times more likely to graduate and attend college, which is why our work is so important and we have to continue with it,” Holmes said.

The organization expanded its reach this year to include Hispanic and other male teachers of color. It also provides members with legal and financial workshops and sessions on homebuying.

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December 27, 2023