PPS Leaders Encouraging Black Male Students To Become Teachers

May 24, 2016

Pittsburgh Public Schools held a small conference Tuesday to encourage black male students to consider teaching as a career.
Credit Virginia Alvino / 90.5 WESA

Though more than 60 percent of the students in Pittsburgh Public Schools are people of color, district officials said eighty-five percent of its teachers are white and primarily women.

Carrick High School junior Trevon Stanton said throughout his education, he’s rarely had a teacher who looks like him. That’s why he’s considering becoming a teacher one day.

First off, it starts with me," Stanton said. "If no one’s going to be the change then I will.”

Pittsburgh Public Schools officials said they want the district’s teachers to better reflect the student body and are encouraging young students of color to consider a teaching career one day. That's why Stanton was one of about 60 students invited to participate in a day of workshops and meeting with educators. 

“I tell them my personal experiences," said Carlton Heywood, a librarian at Brashear High School. "They can’t look at it as they’re going to be rich. They have to look at it as there’s more to it. There’s an intrinsic value to it.”

Heywood said black men have a lot of cultural and academic knowledge to offer all students. But he said it can be hard to convince black male students that teaching could be the right profession for them.  

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 6.8 percent of public school teachers in the U.S. are black. 

Heywood said he has seen some interest in teaching among his students, but increasing the ratio of teachers of color in Pittsburgh will likely be a slow process.