Can you recall the number of black male teachers throughout your K-12 matriculation?
It’s understandable to realize the problem of not recalling such because black males only count for 2 percent of teachers in America.
“We plan to increase the number of teachers of color in the education profession ranging from classroom teachers, counselors, administration, school psychologist, and even those that want to go into higher education,” Blake Nathan, a Tennessee State University graduate and CEO of Educate Me Foundation, told HBCU Buzz in an exclusive interview.
The Educate ME Foundation has recruited over sixty aspiring and current educators, three hundred high school participants in its HBCU Tour, bringing together more than one hundred individuals to help combat the problems facing the education systems in urban communities, and partnered with eight school districts and charter school networks in the year of 2016 alone. All of this came to fruition under the vision of Nathan.
Imagine for a few moments that you’re a new teacher. As you are driving towards school you instantly recognize that you’re teaching in an urban community. Walking down the halls passing the various classrooms, you notice that the students you serve look totally different from the teacher population that serves them.
This is an imagination for many of you but a reality for Nathan.
When Blake Nathan began his first job at Stoneybrook Middle School, he was immensely shocked to find out he was the only black male teacher. Once realizing the shortage of black male teachers he knew that he had to do something quickly.
As Nathan reflects on his own educational experience he realized he didn’t have that many black male teachers either. A native of Stone Mountain, Georgia, Nathan only had three black male teachers through his K-12 education.
What is surprising even more, he only had five teachers of color at a historically black university, Tennessee State. And Nathan noted that while attending the Harvard Graduate School of Education Urban Principals Institute with over two hundred national educators in attendance less than ten were black men.
Looking around the room Nathan began to write immense ideas for creating change in the educational rim.
Writing and rewriting over and over again, Nathan struggled to come up with a perfect name for an organization he desired to create to better the education field for minorities:
“Blake Nathan Foundation… No, that’s striking the ego, Black Males Educate… No… Educate ME Foundation… That’s It!”
While constructing the foundation of Educate ME, Nathan realized that black males are not the only ones lacking in the teaching field. Overall, black male and black female teachers account for 9 percent of the total percentage of overall teacher makeup.
Originally, Educate Me started out for black men but swiftly changed for the ME to represent minority educators.
Nathan along with a very supportive team was able to come up with key programs that the foundation will focus on including Educate Me Match Program, Educate Me Cadet, and the Educate Me University. With the Educate ME Match Program, the foundation has been fortunate enough to obtain partnerships with a range of great school districts and charter school networks.
“The best thing I like about Educate ME is that it gives the opportunity to access…access to jobs, leadership, and mentorship,” Brittany Stephens, T-TECH Early College Liaison, said. “It is the hope of a child that loves his/her teacher that looks like them, the opportunity to be that person to someone else.”
These partnerships will provide participants with travel stipends for interviews, relocation packages, and even salary advances.
“Educate ME allowed me to bring my professional aspirations to fruition,” Dameion Cowans, Republic Middle School Teacher, and Match Program Participant, said. “I have been afforded the opportunity to work in a school that enables me to tailor my objectives as an educator to students who come from a similar background as I did.”
The foundation also hosts various events including an HBCU College Tour, Educate Me Power Hour, and Educate Me Teacher’s Combine. The first priority for Educate ME is the high school to college continuum.
During his career of teaching for three years before he left the classroom to fully commit to Educate ME, Nathan would wear TSU paraphernalia to school. When asked by several students what school was that he would state an HBCU located in Tennessee. None of his students ever heard of an HBCU and that began the idea of the HBCU Tour.
So far, the foundation has taken high school students across the country to view seventeen HBCU’s. This spring, students will be taken on a tour to view an additional five HBCU’s. Celebrity rapper, T.I. donated close to $5,000.00 through the TIDAL x Money Talks Competition to help with the tours.
Not only is the foundation focusing on individuals for the future of education but educators and influencers of right now.
The foundation’s Power Hour brings together leaders in education with politicians, local business owners, activists, and the community for engaged conversation and interactive discussion. They take place bi-monthly in Indianapolis and will expand to various cities starting in the 2017-2018 academic school year.
The purpose stands to examine key issues impacting urban schools and the community.
For any potential educators looking to locate to the city of Indianapolis, Indiana, The Educate ME Teacher’s Combine event is one that allows prospective teacher candidates to experience the city as a future home. Candidates experience the classroom hands on with visits to public, township, and charter schools to gain a firsthand perspective of the educational landscape. While participating, they are able to partake in recruitment fairs, interview with school administrators, and even convey a mini lesson plan.
“Blake Nathan’s vision to provide a pipeline of urban educators into our nation’s high-need schools is both timely and absolutely necessary to save underserved communities,” Brian Dinkins, Principal Providence Cristo Rey High School, said.
If you would like to learn more or donate to Educate ME Foundation you can visit the website at https://educatemefoundation.org/. “Education Is Dope” shirts are now on sale and all proceeds go toward events and programs. You can also learn about becoming a University Ambassador, or signing up for specific programs through the website. Students that want to become an ambassador for Spring 2017, can email Educate ME Foundation their resume at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students must be a Junior or Senior enrolled in a Teacher Preparatory Program at their university.