Community college seeks to place more Black male teachers in Minnesota classrooms

The Sirtify program at Normandale Community College is looking to close the achievement gap between Black and white students.

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In an effort to close the achievement gap between Black and white students in Minnesota, one community college is looking to recruit more Black male teachers.

Normandale Community College, located in Bloomington, has launched a two-year initiative called Sirtify that currently has a half-dozen participants who will become elementary and high school teachers. According to Fox 9, the program aims to recruit African and African American men who believe that students can benefit from having someone who looks like them in the classroom.

The Sirtify program at Normandale Community College in Minnesota is looking to recruit more Black male teachers in an effort to close the achievement gap between Black and white students. (Photo: Screenshot/normandale.edu)

Darrin Funches, one of the participants, told the local news outlet that he had several Black male teachers, and now he aims to be one. “Having someone be an influence upon you definitely helped me,” he said. “I had the opportunity to have six or seven individuals who were African American males. They played a part in me wanting me to become a teacher.”

Participants receive annual scholarships to cover tuition, fees, books and supplies, plus a stipend for living expenses. They also get academic support, leadership training and professional mentoring, as well as help transitioning to a four-year program.

Funches is currently employed as a paraprofessional in Edina while working toward fulfilling his hopes to teach history and African American studies.

Sirtify was launched last fall, and the program’s manager, Mavis Kilgore, told Fox 9 that Normandale would “really like to change the narrative of what the Black man is in American society using education as a vehicle to do so.”

Only 1.5 percent of Minnesota’s teachers are Black, but Black students account for 11 percent of the state’s school population.

“If you see that certain demographics have been excluded from society, you need to correct those wrongs,” Kilgore noted, “and this program is doing just that.”

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