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First Candidates in Charleston Program to Recruit Male Teachers of Color Now in Classrooms

  • Becoming a teacher was not part of the plan for Ja'Quan Evans, who had planned a career in psychology after graduating from Benedict College in South Carolina. But, after attending a college career fair, he decided to go in another direction.

    Evans is now a kindergarten teacher at E.B. Ellington Elementary School in Charleston, S.C. He is among the first candidates recruited for the Men of CHS Teach program created by the Charleston County School District. The initiative sets an alternative pathway for men of color to become teachers in the district, specifically in early childhood or elementary education.

    In a story on the Charleston school district’s website, Evans said he saw the program as an opportunity – both for a productive, rewarding career and a way to give back. He noted he didn’t have a Black male teacher until he went to college.

    “I was a little hesitant at first,” Evans said. “However, I love seeing the children’s excitement. I’m blessed and thankful for this opportunity and recommend the program to anyone who has a passion for teaching.”

    A Need for Male Teachers of Color

    The school system launched the Men of CHS Teach program in partnership with the University of South Carolina to address the teacher workforce needs throughout the district.

    While students of color account for nearly 45 percent of the Charleston school system’s 49,000-student population, only four percent of the district’s 3,600 teachers are men of color, with the majority teaching at the middle or high school level.

    Participants in the program are provided professional development and mentorship and co-teach with current educators, while earning full teachers’ salaries. Evans takes education courses online at the University of South Carolina while being mentored by experienced black male teachers in the Charleston area.

    The Men of CHS Teach Program Director April Butler hopes to connect with as many candidates as possible, and in addition to traditional venues such as college campuses, is reaching out to churches, barbershops, shopping malls and fraternities. "The impact (of hiring more men of color as teachers) is tremendous. It's shown to increase graduation rates and relate to cultural aspects and bring a more positive experience for students," said Butler. 

    Five candidates have already been recruited and Butler hopes to recruit 15 more by August.

    Graduates with a Bachelor’s Degree in any major and expectant graduates are eligible to participate in the program. The program is also looking for men of color who perhaps may want to change careers.