Apple has profiled the inaugural class of Huston-Tillotson University's African American Male Teacher Initiative, a program created in partnership with the iPhone maker to get more Black male educators in classrooms.
The program has Apple providing scholarships to students, as well as hardware, software, and professional development courses for students and faculty. It was established via Apple's Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, as part of a multi-year partnership with Huston-Tillotson.
The program was developed to change the statistic that only 2% of all US teachers are Black men. According to Apple's profile, Black students are significantly more likely to graduate high school and consider attending college when they are taught by a black teacher.
"Every student should have the chance to be taught by someone who represents them," wrote Hillary-Rhys Richards in his application to the program. "In order to build strong children, we need strong male teachers to forge a path through being the example for students. The baton has to be passed for us to continue pushing forward. I stand ready to run my leg of the race."
Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, Huston-Tillotson president, said the partnership with Apple to create the African American Male Teacher Initiative was prompted by seeing her son's education transformed by the presence of a Black male teacher in the fifth grade.
"There's an African proverb: If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,'" says Dr. Burnette. "So to have a partner like Apple that is best in class for innovation and its commitment to excellence — it's a natural match. We're investing in a mission with education as the great equalizer and giving people opportunities to be the best they can be."
Rhys' music classes are taught by Dr. Samuel Rowley, who is the student's first Black male teacher. Rhys calls him "very positive" and a perfectioning. "Sort of like me. So I see myself in him."
Rowley uses Apple products like Clips and GarageBand for iPad in his classes, which he teaches remotely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. FaceTime is also used by the music professor to speak to his students.
"If it would not have been for Apple products, I would not have been able to connect with my students all around the country," said Rowley, who is a recognized Apple Teacher after finishing professional learning courses provided through the free Apple Teacher Learning Center. He is also guiding program participants through the same courses as well, so they will be recognized Apple Teachers upon graduation.
This has led to Rhys being excited to learn more about what Apple can do to improve education. "Especially now that I've been introduced to GarageBand, I want to learn more about how I can incorporate it into my classes when I'm a teacher."
This has included education-led efforts such as the Community Education Initiative, the learning hub at the Propel Center, the Apple Developer Academy covering Detroit, criminal justice reform donations to the Equal Justice Initiative, and Apple's Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers.
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