North Carolina Central University launched the Marathon Teaching Institute, with the mission of recruiting, retaining and mentoring African American males to become K-12 teachers and educators.
Currently, Black male teachers comprise less than two percent of public K-12 teachers nationally, according to a U.S. Department of Education. The new MTI program aims to increase this number.
Quintin Murphy, the program coordinator of MTI, said the organization aims to provide Black male students with the tools they need to succeed as educators.
“We aim to be the number one African American teaching program that prepares African American students across all HBCUs," Murphy said. "It is the only independently run program on an HBCU campus that better prepares African American students to go to the next level."
Murphy said that N.C. Central is currently known for its excellent law and nursing programs, but he is hopeful that the MTI will shine a light on the school's education program.
“In the early 1960s and 1970s, Central was looked at as one of the best teaching colleges in the state," Murphy said. "We want to refocus and re-highlight that Central is a great institution to obtain your licensure degree and that it’s a great institution where we wanted to do more for African American male education majors."
Brian Wasson, an English teacher at Chapel Hill High School, graduated from N.C. Central in 2012. Wasson said historical and institutional factors have contributed to the number of Black male teachers.
“Black kids coming up haven't seen their intelligence as valued in school settings or their self-worth and self-efficacy affirmed all that much in school settings,” Wasson said. “Now this is improving, but historically, the educational system hasn't always been a source of safety and comfort for Black people in general, and particularly Black men.”
Wasson said he has seen the impact that Black male teachers can have on graduation and retention rates for Black students, which he attributes to their efforts to affirm their students' self-worth.