Every day, Charles White strives to set a positive example for his 5th grade students at Port Towns Elementary School in Bladensburg, MD. White is concerned about the lack of positive male role models for children in inner-city, urban communities.
“As an African American male who grew up in the inner-city environment, I feel that I can relate to the children I teach,” says White, a former U.S. Postal Service employee and participant in the Transition to Teaching Program. “My desire has been to be a positive role model in the community and in front of the classroom instead of being stereotyped as the one who cleans it up.”
Fellow Port Towns Elementary School teacher and Transition to Teaching participant Rodney Carter shares White’s sentiment. “If you take a look at any childcare center, preschool, or elementary school, you will see that there are very few men who work with young children,” Carter says.
Annually 12,000 new teachers must be recruited to meet the demands of the region’s school systems, especially at high-need schools in urban, inner-city communities. The region is currently losing certified teachers at a much faster pace than new teachers can be recruited.
The Transition to Teaching Program, a public/private partnership started in 2003 between the U.S. Department of Education, Howard University’s School of Education, Community Teachers Institute and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, helps address this issue by fast-tracking the training for qualified individuals and providing mentor support once they are placed in teaching positions.
The program recruits both mid-career professionals and recent college graduates to be trained as teachers. Participants in the program, like White and Carter, receive a three-year contract to teach in the region’s high-need school districts (such as the District of Columbia, Prince George’s County and Alexandria City) as they continue coursework toward certification and credits that can be applied towards a Master’s degree.
“I want to give back to a profession that gave so much to me and made me the person that I am today. Teaching is my way of giving back,” White says. “I hope that one day some of [my students] will grow up to be teachers as well.”
About a third of the program’s graduates have been men. Mid-career professionals who become teachers include more men from racial and ethnic minority groups when compared to people entering the teaching profession right out of college.
Howard University is accepting applications until April 15, 2005 for the 2004-2005 academic year.