by Dedrick Russell -

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) district is on a special assignment. The district wants to have at least 22 percent of its new teachers this year to be male. Currently out of about 9,000 CMS teachers, 20 percent are male.

The national average is about 24 percent of teachers are men. CMS superintendent Ann Clark believes increasing male teachers will make a difference in learning and help fill the teacher pipeline.

“That is a way,” Clark said. “You begin to show kids that this is a viable profession, otherwise kids don’t see that message day in and day out.”

CMS also wants to increase the number of male teachers

“Those students may not have exposure to male role models,” CMS Recruitment Rakeda Leaks said. “At home or in their community, so this gives them that option.”

CMS is participating in many career fairs this year trying to find effective male candidates. Pay is an issue. Research shows men say no to teaching because of the salary. Starting teacher pay in North Carolina is $35,000 a year. CMS says it will focus on the positives CMS has to offer and not dwell on what it has no control over. CMS claims it offers a good working environment, good benefits and a stable retirement system.

CMS principals tell WBTV, male teachers rely on coaching and other school responsibilities to help make ends meet.

Lisa Bailes is principal at South Charlotte Middle School. Her teaching staff is 32 percent male. She feels fortunate of that number and says the male teachers at her school are serious about making a difference.

“A lot of my males,” the principal said. “Will come and say – you know what, put me here or put me there – hey they are on the bus parking lot, they are out front.”

The principal realizes the impact of students having male teachers.

“Always having that presence of a male with our middle school males,” Bailes said. “Is significant in their developmental lives.”

Patrick Theiler has been teaching for nearly 20 years. He is a math teacher at South Charlotte Middle. He says he has gotten used to the pay and believes the greater reward to teaching is making a difference in his students’ lives.

“A lot of kids call me Dad,” Theiler said. “They’ll be like, oh excuse me, I’m sorry but I think that is the perspective they have of that male figure as Dad – at times to come to me and ask me questions. We always want that as a teacher – to be able to have that personal relationship with children in order to have that connection.”

CMS is also trying to champion diversity when recruiting. Only 5 percent of CMS teachers are Black males and 25 percent of all CMS teachers are Black. Hispanic teachers are also needed. Only 3 percent of CMS teachers are Hispanic.Watch the video