Dallas ISD Students Getting Head Start on Path to Teaching

There are nearly 10,000 teachers in the Dallas Independent School District, and fewer than 10 percent of them are black men.

The district hopes its Education and Training Pathway program, which gives black male students first-hand teaching experience, can increase those numbers.

"We are their role models and we are from the classroom, so when it comes time to choose a career they see us first as a career choice," said the program's lead instructor, Justin Bryant.

South Oak Cliff High School seniors Ashton Henderson and Usher Harris spent their Friday afternoon teaching science and reading to students at Clara Oliver Preparatory Elementary School.

The two have an interest in teaching, and thanks to the program they've got a head start on their career path.

"I get to work with some of the young children that need my help, and I think they look up to me like a positive role model. It's very rewarding," said Harris.

Nation wide, black men make up fewer than two percent of the nation's teachers. The district is using the four-year course as a recruiting tool to get more black men interested in teaching. The goal is to get them to return to Dallas ISD.

"The kids that we serve are coming from broken homes and they don't see that male or masculine influence in the house," Bryant said. "To be a very strong presence in the classroom is heavily needed."

Becoming a teacher is personal for Henderson, who knew he wanted to teach since he was in the fifth grade. He wants to be an inspiration to kids in south Oak Cliff.

"People talk down on the kids from where we're from, so I want to show them that you can make it and be whatever you want," he said.

Harris and Henderson are among the program's inaugural class. Cheryl Freeman, the elementary school's principal, said the program is a necessary recruiting tool for the district.

"Just finding any man that can be a teacher, that's not the goal," she said. "It's finding the right man who can deliver for our kids."

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