May 20, 2020
Black Men Teach will erase college debt for six Twin Cities teachers under a unique Student Loan Repayment Program
The journey to becoming a teacher begins at many different places, unique to each who chooses the profession. But what the pathways have in common is a college education, and more often than not, significant student loans to pay for that education. Thanks to a generous donation, six Black male educators teaching in Twin Cities district and charter elementary schools will have the burdens of their college debt lifted as they work to spark a love of learning in the students they teach each day. This strategic effort is part of the mission of Black Men Teach and its Student Loan Repayment Program.
Over the next five years, Black Men Teach will fully repay the existing college loans for Matthew Daniels (Prodeo Academy), Edward Davis (Lucy Laney Elementary, MPS), Markus Flynn (Prodeo Academy), Jessye Lewis (Hiawatha Academy), Sean Sweat (Hope Academy), and Mikaele Tesema (Evergreen Elementary, Anoka-Hennepin). The repayment program is made possible by the generous support of Former Cargill CEO Greg Page and his wife, Former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Kathleen Blatz, who recognize that Minnesota’s children deserve to have racially diverse teachers who experience classroom success and strong retention.
Edward Davis received his undergraduate degree in therapeutic recreation, but it was his time as a paraprofessional that sparked his interest in teaching as a career. “After graduation from college, I had the chance to work with elementary students in the Minneapolis Public School System,” said Davis, who teaches at Lucy Laney Elementary School. “I fell in love with seeing the light bulb go on for these kids when they would begin to grasp a new concept, so I went back to school and got my master’s degree in teaching.”
The loan repayment program is in its first year as Black Men Teach works to develop, place, support and retain Black male elementary educators. Markus Flynn who teaches at Prodeo says college loans increase anxiety levels for many young teachers. “I’ve known the number (of his college debt amount), but knowing what this loan repayment program looks like, makes me feel connected to my community and what my life will look like as a teacher,” Flynn said. “One of the things that draws Black men into the profession is the belief that we have a responsibility to give back. Because of this gift, I can return the favor to someone else. That’s what this is about.”
Black Men Teach is keenly focused on ensuring student success by addressing teacher success. “As stakeholders in our children’s future, it is imperative that we support a clear path for Black men in the classroom,” said Greg Page.
The repayment program repays the entire amount of each of the six teachers’ college loans over five years. Embedded into this plan is a requirement that each recipient continues his role as an elementary school educator. “This repayment program provides a lifeline for six talented Black male educators to remain in their elementary classrooms and focus on professional growth. What’s even more compelling for me as a social justice warrior is that Greg Page and Kathleen Blatz are interrupting the racial wealth gap in our country. For that, I am grateful,” shared Black Men Teach Board Chair and Hopkins Public School Superintendent Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed.
April 27, 2020
We hope this message finds you well. We want to give you an update about our program and some of the adjustments we have made due to COVID-19.
FIRST, we are excited to tell you that we have recruited our first cohort of teaching candidates; 8 Black men who are currently in the process of becoming elementary school teachers – AND we have placed our first teacher at one of our partner schools, Monroe Elementary in Brooklyn Park!
COVID-19, of course, has dramatically altered our school environments, not only for our elementary school students but for our teaching candidates as well. Not having the opportunity to participate in traditional student teaching or engage in other in-school experiences is having an impact on those in the process of earning their degrees and securing a teaching license. We have re-focused our work in supporting these candidates, working closely with the Minnesota Department of Education and the Professional Educator and Licensing Standards Board to secure other opportunities for professional growth and licensure.
NEXT UP – Black Men Teach not only assists men on their pathway to become educators, we seek to retain those currently in the field. One such program will soon be announced broadly to the public: the Black Men Teach Student Loan Repayment Program. Due to a tremendous gift by a benefactor, we will be paying off the student loan principal balance of five current Black male elementary school teachers in the Twin Cities area. Look for the announcement coming soon!
February 26, 2020
Black Men Teach Announces a Student Loan Repayment Program for Current Black Male Elementary School Teachers
As one element in our effort to retain black male educators in our elementary schools, Black Men Teach (BMT) is pleased to offer a student loan repayment assistance program to a limited number of qualified teachers in the Twin Cities area. BMT will make payments against the selected candidates student loans, up to a total of $40,000 over a five-year period, providing he continues in a teaching or education leadership role in a qualified elementary school during those five years.
This loan repayment program is available to those who:
*Identify as a black male
*Are currently teaching in a Twin Cities (seven-county metropolitan area) elementary school as a teacher of record in the elementary grades K-5 holding a Tier 1, 2, 3 or 4 license. Paraprofessionals, administrators and non-teaching school employees do not qualify.
*Currently have outstanding student loans associated with acquiring a bachelor’s degree in education of up to $50,000. An exemption may be granted to teachers with debt exceeding $50,000 based upon their response to an additional question in the application.
*Submit an application on or before Friday, March 20, 2020. Click HERE for the application.
Interested and qualified persons must complete the application and submit it to Black Men Teach by Friday, March 20, 2020, 5:00 PM CST. Late applications will not be accepted.
BMT will confirm eligibility, including employment verification, and select four applicants for this award by Friday, April 3, 2020. Applicants will be divided into two groups: those currently teaching in schools and districts partnering with Black Men Teach (listed on the application), and those teaching in all other Twin Cities elementary schools. A minimum of two teachers from partner schools will be selected with others coming from the broader community. Those selected will be notified by email no later than Friday, April 3, 2020.
BMT is Looking Forward to 2020
Best wishes for a happy and productive 2020 from Black Men Teach! We want to extend our appreciation to each of you for your support of our mission – to recruit, prepare, place and retain black male teachers in our elementary schools. Because of your support, we are excited about the possibilities of the new year and will have much to report in the months ahead.
Be on the lookout for the announcement of our first cohort of Black Men Teach Fellows, exceptional men who are now in the process of becoming educators.
For those black male educators who are already in the classroom, we will soon be announcing a student loan repayment program available to a limited number of recipients. Reducing or eliminating the student debt accumulated while pursuing their degree and licensure will help keep them in the classroom as role models for tomorrow’s leaders.
And April will bring even more news – please stay tuned. Drop us a note if you wish to become more involved!
December 6, 2019
Does Teacher Race Really Matter?
In fall of 2018, The New Teachers Project (TNTP) published a study, The Opportunity Myth, attempting to answer the question, “How can students be graduating from high school and be unprepared to meet their goals for college and career?” The question was prompted by data that shows even though high school graduation rates are increasing, a growing number of students need remedial course work before they can begin their college classes. Among our nation’s black college students, 66% are not fully prepared for college-level course work and need to take at least one remedial class.
The study found that students spend most of their time in school without access to four key resources: grade-level appropriate assignments, strong instruction, deep engagement with what they are learning, and teachers who hold high expectations for them. Teacher expectations demonstrated the strongest relationship to student growth.
Teacher’s race has a significant impact on teacher expectations and student performance.
The TNTP study showed that 66% of teachers who shared their students race or ethnicity held high expectations for their students. Only 35% of teachers who did not share their students race or ethnicity held high expectations for their students. Additionally, TNTP found that in 38% of classes with high concentrations of students of color, teachers never provided a single grade-level assignment to their students. This reality has serious implications for student achievement in schools with majority students of color and majority white teachers.
We know students respond favorably to high expectations. We know this because when high expectations are clearly communicated and consistently held, students reach them. At the same time, students also respond to low expectations. Spending year after year in classrooms devoid of academic rigor with teachers who do not believe in them results in students being woefully unprepared for their future.
All students benefit by attending schools with a diverse teacher workforce but the benefit is exponential for students of color. Teachers of color understand the lived experience of students of color. Teachers of color also offer added educational value by serving as role models for their black and brown students. And when they believe in the capabilities of these students and hold them to high standards, they help students achieve in ways some believe is not possible.
At Black Men Teach, we transform the classroom experience by cultivating and coaching black men to become the exceptional educators our students deserve.
November 7, 2019
This Veteran’s Day, Black Men Teach thanks our active service members, veterans and their families for their service, sacrifice and commitment to country and community.
We offer a special thank you to those who served first in uniform and now serve in our nation’s classrooms as positive role models, inspiring and educating the next generation of leaders.
Many of these men and women became teachers via “Troops to Teachers,” a Department of Defense supported program providing a viable and affordable pathway to the classroom.
Troops to Teachers assists transitioning service members and veterans in beginning new careers as K-12 school teachers in public, charter and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools. The program provides counseling and referral services for participants to help them meet education and licensing requirements to teach and subsequently helps them secure a teaching position. Since 1993, more than 21,000 veterans have successfully transitioned to a career in education.
October 15, 2019
Strategic Roadmap Discussions with Accenture
Black Men Teach continues working behind the scenes to develop near and long-term milestones, including mission alignment and the development of our organization’s roadmap.
In late September, we had the invaluable opportunity to hear from thought-leaders at Accenture in Minneapolis, who shared their research on students, teachers and prospective teachers of color in the Twin Cities area and where we will be most effective as we strive to provide all students to have the opportunity to attend schools staffed with racially and culturally diverse teachers and leaders.
Accenture’s thorough examination of our marketplace and our goals suggest our mission is on track as we focus on “the what, the how, and the why.” With a continued focus on building relationships and our funding base, this roadmap includes activating stakeholder engagement, developing our community outreach plan, finalizing our school partnerships and executing a black community-led recruitment strategy.
We are indebted to the work that Accenture has done to help guide our future and look forward to continuing on our path to improve academic success and life outcomes for black elementary school students by building strategic community partnerships that create the environment and conditions where black male teachers can thrive. Special thanks to David Wilson, Christy Sovereign, Trey Gladney and Kevin Idahor.
October 10, 2019
Congratulations to our Board Chair, Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed!
We are pleased to share with you notice of an honor recently bestowed upon our chair, Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed, named “Superintendent to Watch,” by the National School Public Relations Association.
The Superintendent to Watch award honors superintendents who have fewer than five years of experience and who are on track to be remarkable leaders. Superintendents who earn the award are strong communicators who demonstrate active, visible involvement in their districts. They engage their community in multiple ways and model strong communication for staff. Rhoda is just two years into her superintendent position with Hopkins, yet she has completed an ambitious number of tasks related to communication and engagement, created a leadership academy for principals and department leaders, and focused on ways to authentically engage disenfranchised audiences. Rhoda brings these same skills and personal qualities to her role as chair of Black Men Teach, where she has assisted in building a board of remarkable leaders in education and business, and enlisted a number of K-12 and higher education partners to collaborate in our work of increasing the number of black male educators in the Twin Cities.
September 16, 2019
A welcome to Tamiko Thomas, our new Board Member! See the Who We Are section to find out more about Tamiko and to correspond with her.
September 3, 2019
Black Men Teach is pleased to announce the appointment of Josh Thelemann to the position of Interim Program Manager.
“This appointment marks a significant milestone in the development of Black Men Teach,” said BMT Board Chair Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed. “With the start of the school year, the BMT consortium of community partners is launching its collective impact approach to increasing the number of black male educators in our elementary schools, and Josh will play a critical role in ‘quarterbacking’ this activity.”
August 13, 2019
Thanks to all the incredible men who dedicate their lives to inspiring others to greatness.
August 7, 2019
Without question, when the majority of students in public schools are students of color and only 18 percent of our teachers are teachers of color, we have an urgent need to act. We’ve got to understand that all students benefit from teacher diversity. We have strong evidence that students of color benefit from having teachers and leaders who look like them as role models and also benefit from the classroom dynamics that diversity creates. But it is also important for our white students to see teachers of color in leadership roles in their classrooms and communities. The question for the nation is how do we address this quickly and thoughtfully?
~ U.S. Education Secretary John B. King, Jr., speaking at Howard University, March 8, 2016
There are few black male candidates in the education pipeline so the problem noted by Secretary King will not be solved quickly. Black Men Teach is addressing this issue now in a thoughtful, comprehensive manner. Please consider supporting this important work. Click here to invest in our mission.
June 12, 2019
“We are superheroes because we serve as a role model of possibilities for Black boys, present a counter narrative of negative representations of Black males in media, and continually navigate the complex educational and societal systems that often splinter our identities.”
Francis Pina, Black Male Educator
In TEACH PLUS
June 5, 2019
The Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank which focuses on education, just published a new study on the effects of student-teacher race matching, looking at how student outcomes are impacted when they have a teacher that looks like them. The research was conducted in North Carolina by Seth Gershenson, Associate Professor of Public Policy, American University. The full report is here, but we highly recommend you read the forward by Amber Northern and Michael Petrelli.
June 1, 2019
From time to time, Black Men Teach will be sharing testimonials and personal stories from some of our exceptional black male educators in the Twin Cities. We thank Keenan Jones, elementary school teacher in Hopkins, for his honest and inspiring message.
WHY I TEACH – Keenan Jones, Hopkins Public Schools
My grandfathers grew up in an era of discrimination, racism, and segregation in the South and Midwest. They fought for literacy because they knew their fight would benefit generations after. My road to becoming an educator was not easy, especially being a Black man in America. I made it because many individuals from coaches, teachers, and specifically Black men would not allow me to fail.
In 2019, I continue to see the struggle of some of our young Black boys, many going through the same struggles I had in school and society. I feel like it’s my duty to give back and fight in the same way Black men fought for me.
When I see young people coming into the building and smiling, ecstatic about the learning day, it motivates me to know that I can help change the world by delivering a message of dreaming big and determination to these young minds. There is no profession in the world that I feel has more impact on our youth than education. For 6-7 hours a day, we can sculpt minds to think about social justice, critical thinking, science, writing, and most importantly, being a good citizen. As a Black man, I feel like my view of the world has prepared me for this profession of teaching. Prepared me to offer a unique perspective of what you can do when you reach for the stars and dream big. My reward is when my students leave the classroom with a greater sense of self, all because I provide them the space in which to do so.
However, I live with this harsh reality. Often times when I walk in to the building, I have the feeling of, “who is watching me, who doesn’t trust me, what do people think of me?” Many tell me not to feed into that, but it is tough not having colleagues that you can connect with on a personal level. Professionalism teaches you to collaborate with all, but how can you collaborate with those who at times question your intelligence? I will never forget a teacher who once told me, “The only reason students like you is because your tall, athletic, and black.” Those words have stuck with me since they were mumbled in my ears. These microaggressions happen often, but I think back to my family and those men in my family who lived in the civil rights era. Every day, I’m fighting to work harder than the last, to reduce the stereotypes about Black males in education and Black males in society. I accept the challenges that I’m faced with on the day-to-day basis, but at some point I hope that my work will tear down these walls that are up for Black males in America. All for the purpose of making it easier for future young Black male educators.
April 3, 2019 Board members Dr. Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed and Darrell Thompson, along with James Ewer from Prodeo Academy, provide testimony to the Minnesota State Senate E-12 Finance and Policy Committee on the benefits of teachers of color.
Click here to view the video of the testimony.