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Black teachers on the importance of representation in the classroom

Three Black men who teach in the metro talk with KARE 11 about the importance of classroom diversity, in this week's "Their Calling."

MINNEAPOLIS — During the month of May, KARE 11 Sunrise is partnering with Box Tops for Education and Black Men Teach Twin Cities to celebrate extraordinary teachers who are statistically underrepresented. According to Black Men Teach, 0.5% of Minnesota's 65,000 teachers are Black men.

KARE 11 spoke with three Black male teachers in the metro about their experiences in the classroom. 

Shad Williams, a second grade teacher from the Robbinsdale School District, Keenan Jones, a fourth grade teacher in the Hopkins School District and Edward Davis, who teaches fifth grade at Lucy Laney in Minneapolis joined us for a panel discussion.

Kiya Edwards: Can you guys kind of talk to me about the importance of just being there in that classroom for the kids you teach?

Shad Williams: To see the look of students when they come into the classroom, especially other African-American students who come in there, and they're like "oh my gosh you're my teacher."

Edward Davis: They relate to me and I relate to them because I'm going to tell them exactly what it is, and that comes with holding them with high expectations. 

Keenan Jones: Sometimes being an African-American male teacher and being the only one in the building, there's a lot of pressure that comes with that. 

It was actually a note from one of my white students that told me that I was the best teacher that he ever had, and, you know, I'm not afraid or ashamed to say, this but a tear came down my eye.

Edwards: I want to shift focus now to moving forward for Minnesota. What are your goals for education here?

Williams: The students deserve to have representation. We need you out here. If you have an interest in education please come out and be an educator.

Edwards: And on that note it's like we're not saying all teachers should be Black now. It's just like, let's come out of that 0.5%.

Davis: What's next for me is just I'm finishing up my administrative license. 

Edwards: Are we talking superintendent here or...?

Davis: I did the coursework for my superintendents license. Administrative role is going to be able to give me opportunity to cast a wider net and bring more people into the profession to help all students no matter where they come, from no matter what they look like and no matter the culture they identify with.

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