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Perspective | As a Black man in America, here’s why I still love teaching

During my formative years, if posed with a question about becoming an educator, I would have had to sort through the mixed emotions the question would bring. During those years, education was a bit further from my mind, as the legal field was where I felt most confident. Once I realized that I wanted to be proactive instead of waiting for opportunities to address the plight of students of color, the reality of becoming an educator was the only plausible path to enable change in the world.

The desired change I want to make in the world is not strictly directed to the world at large of course. Instead, my contributions will be made by impacting the life of one individual at a time. As an educator, my drive has always been toward making a difference in my community by being presently active in every aspect of my duties. My early experiences with mentoring and tutoring were the genesis that sparked the passion I have for education today.

Inspiration through education has been a recurring theme in my life. One educator comes to mind because they helped me realize and tap into my full potential as well as establish the academic anchor of excellence with which I still live my life. It is because of their unyielding support and willingness to share their vast knowledge with a young mind such as mine that I am confident in my ability to help illuminate a safe path for the generation of the future.

It has been through advocacy and mentorship that I have been able to transform the lives of my students the most. In this avenue, I have been able to amplify students’ voices and transcend traditional learning barriers to elevate the leadership qualities they see in themselves. The rapport and personal connections we establish also go a long way into building their confidence in and out of the classroom. My passion for building confidence and self-worth is not just a lesson I teach my students; it is a personal motto.

Classrooms are more than the simple four walls in which educators teach. They also exist within our communities. As an educator, my heart grows jaded by the socioeconomic and political divides created by district and state leaders across the country. My love for education only grows more and more each day that I can address the growing needs of young learners within my respective community. I am a firm believer in the age-old saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and I will be a distinguished member of that said village by any means necessary. Pedagogy of educators are constantly challenged, and the fact that there is a lack in equity and resources highlights the need for supportive systems.

I find myself reflecting on my contribution to the mechanisms that create and foster personal empowerment through sustainable pedagogy. Classrooms in the 21st century can feel more divided than ever as we experience overextended classroom leaders alongside unjust and unsustainable policies. However, I am hopeful and remain optimistic that I can continue answering the call and be an integral solution in the lives of young learners. I push to continue to challenge the plight of being yet another statistical figure in the educational spectrum. For this, I love teaching.

Jamial Black

Jamial D. Black has worked in education for 10 years as an educator, community advocate, and mentor. Black is currently serving as the elementary site coordinator for AventWest Children’s Mentoring in Raleigh, North Carolina. He focuses on closing achievement gaps, generational divides, and providing supportive services for at-risk youth and English-language learners.