This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.
Black male teachers make up roughly 2% of all public school teachers in the country. One Maryland college professor and former Prince George’s County Public School teacher has been working tirelessly for years to change that.
Curtis Valentine, Founder of Real Men Teach, a group founded to help recruit and retain male educators of color told WTOP that the data is clear.
“When Black students have a Black educator, their student achievement goes up, graduation rates go up, discipline goes down (and) special education placement goes down,” he said.
Valentine started the group two years ago in the midst of the pandemic to help further his mission of bringing more Black men into the classroom. He also created the Male Educator Network of Prince George’s County Public Schools six years prior with fellow educators Victorious Hall and Albert Lewis.
He said that, since founding the organization, Prince George’s County has seen the highest percentage of male educators of color compared to other school systems in the D.C. area.
Valentine said his “it takes a village” approach was developed while growing up in Franklin Township, New Jersey, a small community where people in the community like your barber helped shape and mold young Black boys into men.
The Morehouse graduate also received his master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland where he teaches public policy and is an At-Large member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education.
Valentine’s experiences also include working for the Peace Corp in South Africa and as regional field director for former President Barack Obama’s campaign. Valentine lives with his wife, a native of Oxon Hill, and their two children in Prince George’s Count.