NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Students are more likely to be interested in careers if someone who looks like them is doing the job. But in the United States, only 2% of teachers are Black men.
Black men make up more than 2% of the staff at East Magnet High School. At the high school, Black male students are learning they can move the needle even more.
"To be the head coach, you have to be a certified teacher," science teacher Raymond Bass said to his students.
Bass is the head wrestling coach at East Magnet HS. He's in this career because of a Black teacher he had in school.
"I had two in my whole life, and one was a science teacher, and that's the reason I became a science teacher," Bass said.
In April, East Magnet High School started a new partnership with Tennessee State University. Getting more Black male students interested in teaching was the goal.
"If you can get one or two to become teachers, well-qualified teachers, then that's a success for me," said Duane Smith, from Tennessee State University's College of Education.
With TSU, Bass and assistant principal Michael Pratt talk to a group of boys once a week about options to consider if they choose to follow in their footprints. On Thursday, they discussed ACT scores, dual enrollment and background checks.
Students said the course is changing their minds about teaching.
"I just thought it was like a real stressful job, like everyday you just have to deal with problems," said Ernesto Phillips, a senior.
"As Coach Bass said, we learn better when we are being taught by someone that looks like us. I would say that for sure," said Amaziah Johnson, a junior.
The mentors hope what they say sticks, and that it motivates more young Black men to pursue teaching.
"We try to model a love for teaching, for kids, a love for community, and hopefully that's rubbing off on the kids, and hopefully they'll follow our model and lead and become teachers," Pratt said.