Jason Terrell and Mario Jovan Shaw never had black male educators growing up — and now the duo, who met as new teachers in Charlotte, North Carolina, are on a mission to attract more black male educators into America’s classrooms.
“Oftentimes, my students didn’t see positive black male role models in the media, and some didn’t see them at home,” Shaw said. “For some, I was the confirmation that black males were able to achieve.”
Terrell and Shaw are now the founders of Profound Gentlemen, a community of black male educators based in Charlotte that is working to create more opportunities for black male students. They are among the Walton Family Foundation-supported Black Male Achievement Fellows at Echoing Green, an organization working to unleash next generation talent to solve the world’s biggest problems.
Terrell and Shaw said as teachers they were uniquely qualified to “serve as mirrors” for their students: their students could both identify with them and also see them as role models.
Currently in its first year, Profound Gentlemen is focusing on building a community, educating members, and creating mentorship opportunities, while also engaging in state-level advocacy. In the works is a recruitment program that will award fellowships to black male college students who commit to working in K-12 education.
“We want to be a voice that is focused on the positive things that black male educators are doing every single day,” Terrell said. “Our goal is to highlight positive images and create positive outcomes for kids.”