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An important story for principals and superintendents: Hear this educator of color

During a virtual meeting of the DRIVE Task Force on Tuesday, Oct. 20, an educator shared his story.

DRIVE stands for Developing a Representative and Inclusive Vision for Education, and the task force was talking about supporting and retaining educators of color over the long term.

Meet Sean Parrish. He has been teaching visual arts for 28 years at Brevard High School in Transylvania County Schools. In 2005, he was the district’s teacher of the year.

Parrish grew up in Roanoke Rapids in Halifax County. He attended Weldon City Schools for K-12. He earned a full scholarship to Elizabeth City State University, one of our historically Black universities. He told the task force he felt at home there.

Parrish wanted to teach in eastern North Carolina, but he didn’t get any call backs for interviews.

He ended up taking his position in Brevard. Parrish is the only Black educator at his high school.

His early challenges included just wondering if he would fit in a place with a predominantly white culture. He noted he felt welcome and the staff was friendly.

The town posed another challenge given the limited cultural activities for African Americans.

But Parrish said his biggest challenge as an educator has been “the feeling that you have to give 110% just to be treated as an equal amongst your peers.” He said, “it’s just the reality facing Black America.”

Why did he stay?

“My biggest support and encouragement came from my principals and the central office largely because they believed in me, they sought me out, they allowed me to dream big, and they valued my input.”

Parrish would have left the system without that level of feeling valued.

Principals and superintendents, you don’t need to wait for the DRIVE task force to make its recommendations.

You can do those things now.

Today. Every day.

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.