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Southern partners with national program to increase number of minority male educators

As the low number of minority male educators continues to make headlines, Southern University has embarked on a new initiative on its Baton Rouge campus.  As a partner with the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) Project Pipeline Repair Program, Southern is helping several high school students to not only see a value in pursuing a degree in education but also the positive impact of minorities in the classroom. Southern is one of four teacher education programs across the country selected to participate in the program.


Ormond Leflore, a 12th grader at Southern University Lab School, said it was an honor to be selected for the SHEEO program because it broadened his knowledge about culture, education and self-discovery.


“We have had the opportunity to travel to Arkansas to learn and experience things that will be useful for the rest of my life,” Leflore said. “I have learned here how to resolve conflicts and express myself. Most importantly, I have learned how important it is to have minority teachers.”


Joining Leflore in the 2018 class were fellow Southern Lab students Joseph Delaney-McAllister, Blair Parker, Sherman Ruth and Braylon Valentine.


The School of Education at Southern University hosted a weeklong residency program for participants through its SHEEO program over this past summer. VerJanis A. Peoples, director of the School of Education, served as director of the project with assistance from Tonya Rose as coordinator; Deborah Washington, administrative assistant; and professor Natalie Chesser as the academic coach.


The purpose of the residency was to give participants an opportunity to experience life on a college campus. During the residency, students were engaged from 8 a.m. to noon daily in academic activities. In the afternoon, the participants were involved in culturally enriching activities and participated in an Action Research Project. Denise Pearson, vice president of Academic Affairs and Equity Initiative at SHEEO, presented a workshop on conflict management, in which participants were given certificates. Participants were prepped to take the Accuplacer Exam, which was given to them on the last day of residency.


Each participant had an assigned mentor during the residency.  The mentors stayed during the night in the dormitory and provided inspirational sessions for the participants with assistance from local clergymen and other minority male leaders.


“This is an excellent program aimed to build a strong foundation for high school minority males,” Peoples said. “n order to assist them in meeting the high admission requirements for entering the teacher education major and developing requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions so that they can be successful in college,” Peoples said. “The goal of this project is to recruit and retain minority male candidates to major in teacher education to fulfill the critical shortage of certified minority male teachers in our schools.”


Joseph Delaney-McAllister, who is interested in majoring in computer science or English, said he enrolled in the program because he wanted to find a way to mentor and impact the lives of youth.


“Over the course of my residency, I have grown and learned more than I thought possible,” said Delaney-McAllister.  “It has taught me so much more than culture and education; it has taught me how to find me and be me.”


The culminating activity included a closing banquet at the Southern University Magnolia Dining Room. The young men were greeted by Kim Hunter Reed, Louisiana Commissioner of Higher Education, and Lisa Vosper, associate commissioner. Denise Pearson, vice president of Academic Affairs at SHEEO, was the special guest speaker. 


Participants presented at the banquet their findings from the Action Research Project, which project focused on identifying issues that may discourage students from entering teacher education. Participants interviewed new students on campus to collect data for the research project. This information will be used to assist the School of Education on strategies to enhance enrollment.


Herman Brister, principal at Southern Lab, has become a role model for the young men in the program.  Brister, a Southern University alumnus, said he always recognized the impact that his parents had on the community as educators.


“Being an educator is like planting seeds,” said Brister, who sees the program as an asset to the community. “When the seeds are planted, plants will grow and produce other seeds.”