SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Only two percent of teachers are black men, according to the U.S. Department of Education, and a San Francisco man is trying to transform that deficit with a new model of leadership training.
When Randal Seriguchi Jr. took became Executive Director of Urban Ed Academy in 2016, the San Francisco nonprofit’s afterschool STEM program matched kids of color with mentors who looked like them.
But then Seriguchi stretched its mission in a step farther: to put one black male teacher in every school in the country.
“You can’t be what you can’t see and there’s all the talk about representation matters, and not a lot of tangibility on what that looks like,” he said.
So he launched Man the Bay, a four-year fellowship program that trains black men to become teachers.
He recruits college graduates from historically black colleges and universities.
They come to the Bay Area for free training through the California State University system, classroom experience at San Francisco public schools, and housing that is fully paid for. Funding comes from the city, plus grants from foundations and corporations.
De’Von Maynard, also known as “Mr. D,” is one of 13 fellows going through the program now. He had planned to go into TV and film until Seriguchi recruited him at Delaware State University for a new life purpose in the classroom.
“I tell him this all the time, ‘You changed my life, you really changed my life,'” Maynard said.
LEARN MORE: Jefferson Awards for Public Service
Damon Johnson’s son was in Maynard’s kindergarten class at Bessie Carmichael School and says having a black man as his son Julian’s first teacher means the world.
“He speaks with confidence with Mr. D ’cause he sees someone that looks like his father,” Johnson said.
Students like six-year-old Julian see possibilities.
“They see Mr. D, and they see a bit of themselves in the future, like maybe I can be a teacher,” said Johnson.
“There’s stats that show you have a 29 percent more likely chance of attending and going on and being interested in going to college. 39 percent decrease chance of dropping out of high school, if you put a black man in front of a black boy before sixth grade,” Seriguchi said.
He added, “You just have to understand that you’ll be changing a kid’s life if you will give them an example of success early.”
So for starting Man the Bay to teach black men to become teachers, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Randal Seriguchi Jr.