Teaching is one of my greatest gifts. Seeing my mother’s life’s work as a teacher in Dekalb County created my blueprint for what the life of a "game-changer" looks like, and the many influential teachers I experienced during my time in Atlanta Public Schools helped me to nurture my own gifts along the way.
I attribute my love for teaching to the influence of my first Black male educators: Mr. Gordon from F. L. Stanton Elementary School in Atlanta and my father. I didn’t realize the impact of having Black male teachers then, but I do now. They taught me invaluable life lessons that I not only use to this day, but I also incorporate them into my teaching. One important lesson they taught me was to know our history and to apply it. Today, I’m able to incorporate Black history, Atlanta’s history and world history into my lessons—a skill that has helped me to connect people and to connect with people.
Teaching Has Never Been Just a Job For Me
As a Black male educator, I don’t just get to talk about it; I have to be about it. Every day I have an opportunity to shift the narrative on how Black boys—who will grow into productive citizens like me—are accepted, treated, perceived and depicted in the world. Black boys often show some of the highest levels of deficiency in areas of academics, behavior, discipline and attendance in schools. But Black boys don’t often have a teacher standing in front of them who looks just like them. My love for teaching allows me to challenge the inequity Black boys face in public schools. If teaching is my superpower, I get to be a superhero for students too often left behind.
Teaching has never been just a job for me. I see teaching as an opportunity not only to teach, but also to lead, develop, impact and empower all at once. Every day, I prepare lessons that connect my classroom experience to real-life opportunities for my students. And by incorporating Black history into my lessons, I can show my students Black excellence as the norm. I know my impact on Black boys is positive. I can see it in their performance in my classes and in the feedback I receive from their families.
I Want to See Children Who Look Like Me Succeed
I love teaching despite all the bad press teachers in public schools have received, and I strive to be a teacher who inspires and impacts children, their families and our community in a positive way.
I know we need more teachers like me. We need teachers who are so compelled by the painful stories of the parents and children they serve that they are committed to turning education outcomes around. This is what motivates me to teach in and out of the classroom. I want to help to dismantle the systematic racism that detours children of color from finding success in school and in the world.
Being a Black male teacher is one of the most rewarding parts of my life. My greatest inspiration and the most important reason I love teaching is the growth and change I see in my scholars. I know that the work I am doing every day is impacting the lives of children who are most likely to be left behind in public schools. I want to continue seeing children who look like me succeed and I know I can help to build a better future by shaping the minds of our next global leaders.
Jason B. Allen is the Neighborhood Planning Unit K Chair, which works to build economic and community development in the city of Atlanta. He has worked in education servicing our students, families and communities in various positions in education and human development over the last 10 years. A major goal of his is to ensure that all youth have positive role models to emulate. Throughout his ...