These APS Projects Aim To Combat Barriers that Impact Black Male Students

The Initiative to Increase Black Male Achievement is awarding up to $40,000 for two projects aimed at increasing opportunities for Black male students in Atlanta Public Schools.

Funded by The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site in partnership with the United Way of Greater Atlanta, the selected projects were conceptualized by APS educators and administrators who seek to address the barriers that impact the success of Black male students within APS.

“The achievement gap for the African-American community and Black males in particular has done nothing but grow in the last 10 years,” said Marcus Bivines, APS HR training and communications manager and communications liaison for the Initiative to Increase Black Male Achievement. “The District was able to partner with organizations that wanted to figure out innovative solutions and strategies to help and develop resources for Black males in the school district.”

Those innovative solutions are Rising Son Alliance and Equity-Focused Collaborative: Black Male Educators Changing the Narrative.

Rising Son Alliance Founder Elliott Reid is a social studies teacher and department chair at North Atlanta High School.

Rising Son Alliance is a program centered on increasing the rigor, achievement and academic expectations of high school-aged Black males.  Participants will attend a leadership retreat, an excursion to Washington, D.C., as well as monthly mentoring sessions in their schools and the metro Atlanta area.

“Through in-depth exposure to Atlanta-based Black male taste makers, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders, participants will gain mentors as well as understand and appreciate the importance of challenging themselves academically in order to level the societal playing field, define success for themselves, and matriculate through the post-secondary options of their choosing,” said Rising Son Alliance Founder Elliott Reid, a social studies teacher and department chair at North Atlanta High School. “It is the goal of the Rising Son Alliance that upon completing the program these young men will enter into higher level curriculum course offerings, become vocal leaders in their school communities, and embrace their role as stakeholders in their academic pursuits.”

While one project focuses on Black male students, the other focuses on Black male educators.

Teruko Michelle Dobashi-Taylor, Ayodele Harrison, Elizabeth Hearn and Anthony Lobban are facilitators and planners for the Equity-Focused Collaborative: Black Male Educators Changing the Narrative.

Equity-Focused Collaborative: Black Male Educators Changing the Narrative is an effort to address historically ineffective engagement, development and retention of Black male educators in K-12 schools. In June 2020, Black male educators of APS are invited to attend a four-day immersive institute – facilitated by and for Black male educators – where they will explore individual and collective identity, strategies for community-building and reflection, and perspectives and skills that are at the heart of equity-centered, collaborative and reflective practice.

The planning committee includes Slater Elementary School Dean of Students Dumaka Moultrie, CREATE Teacher Residency Assistant Director Ayodele Harrison, Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School Exceptional Student Services Specialist Anthony Lobban, Toomer Elementary School Assistant Principal Teruko Michelle Dobashi-Taylor, CREATE Teacher Residency Program Director and Diversity & Equity Coach Elizabeth Hearn, and APS Well-Being Coordinator Nzinga Benton.

“We have to make sure that we’re providing exceptional professional development experiences for African-American males that gives them a chance to strengthen or enhance their human capital and social capital. [Both] lead to greater teacher retention in the long run,” Harrison said.

Lobban encourages all APS Black male educators to join the collaborative.

“This Black male educators collaborative is for you. It is designed for you, and it will be facilitated by Black male educators,” Lobban said. “It’s a chance to build community with like-minded teachers who are fiercely committed to providing equitable outcomes for the students in their care.

“Imagine what’s that’s going to be like in a room full of teachers just like yourself, spanning all grade levels from all around the city,” he added. “We never get this opportunity just to share ideas and strategies and learn reflective practices. This is your chance.”

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