We’d love to learn more about you - Tell us a little more about yourself.
I'm originally from Flint, Michigan. I studied at Ohio State University before finishing my Bachelor's degree with the University of Phoenix and earned my Master's in Business Administration at Franklin University. I got into education in a non-traditional way. I was working in the corporate sector and found that I wasn't fulfilled with the positions available and wanted to find a role where I could give back to the community and work with students.
I found myself as a substitute teacher to test the education field out. I really loved and enjoyed being around youth and impacting students lives. I spent around 3 years in the classroom. During the course of those 3 years, I noticed that there were not a lot of black male teachers besides myself, the principal, the basketball coach, and the assistant girl's basketball coach. This made me really reflect and sparked my interest in learning more.
I did a lot of research and reading on why this was the current state of our education, which ultimately led me into the recruitment field with non-profits and school districts. I wanted to be a voice around the issue and to recruit more males of color. Prior to this role, I was the Recruitment Team Lead for the Apollo Fellows program at Houston Independent School District, and prior to that the Recruitment Manager at City Year. I have been the Director of Recruitment here at Relay for the last two and a half years.
What is the most rewarding part of being a Recruiter at Relay?
I met a student at Ohio State University recently who is a successful track athlete and excelling academically. He is a student leader and holds a part-time job. The student explained to me that he was not always successful in school. He went on to tell me about how in the ninth grade he was contemplating dropping out and had earned a low GPA during his freshman year of high school. He told me that he was bullied on the way to school and leaving school going home. He often had to run away from bullies to escape their violence. For this student, school was not fun nor a safe place for him to want to be involved in, much less an environment where he felt he could be successful.
He started to tell me about the one teacher that never gave up on him, who believed in him, and continues to support him to this very day. “It was because of a great teacher that I was able to turn my life around to become a honor student and one of the best athletes on the track team by the end of my sophomore year,” he shared. “I have to teach in order to do what that teacher did for me, for another student,” he explained.
This is why I recruit! Imagine hearing stories like this over and over again, seeing the joy and gratitude in students’ faces, and hearing the passion in their voices. Students have given me chills and goosebumps many times. Not a lot of people can say their careers give them this type of satisfaction. Listening to students' stories is the fuel that I need to seek others out to become teachers. It is confirmation that there are really great, talented people who want to be extraordinary teachers and make tremendous change in education.
What is your biggest piece of advice for someone who is looking to become a teacher?
Don’t believe the hype! We often hear negative press about public education and teaching. Don’t believe what you are hearing and seeing until you’ve experienced it for yourself. There is a lot of magic that happens in under-served schools that rarely get discussed. There are thousands of teachers and schools leaders across the nation in our schools working relentlessly through challenges and knocking down obstacles to ensure kids receive a quality education. They are doing it with less every single day to impact more students to achieve. My advice is to let this be the reason why you teach. Join the teaching profession to become this type of teacher for our kids.
Can you share with us the importance of having men of color in the classroom? How does that impact students?
I think it's important for the identity of students to be reflected in the teachers that are leading them, specifically for our African-American students. Coming from a large African-American community in Flint, Michigan, it was impactful to have teachers that looked like me, lived in the same community, understood some of the challenges that I faced, and could identify with my culture. For me, it provided a deeper level of respect. I believe it creates a relationship in the classroom and an environment that allows students to be more comfortable and successful academically in school.
Young African-American boys have limited examples of what success can be. The examples that they are privileged to see are at often times negative, therefore, I believe having a strong African-American male leader in the classroom is that much more important to help our African-American students dream bigger and more successfully because they can see themselves in their role model.
What’s the best way for someone to get in touch with you?
You can reach me directly through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.