This academic year, Rowan University has become the first institution in the northeastern United States to start a program aiming to increase the amount of men of color in the field of education.
The inaugural recruitment and retention of Project Increasing Male Practitioners and Classroom Teachers (nicknamed IMPACT) welcomed 14 young male students this year, said program recruiter Janelle Alexander.
“As a mother of three, I know all too well the lack of diversity in education. For these men, it’s a continuation of a story for so many students that think, ‘Yes I can do this too,’” Alexander said.
Rowan created the program in response to a national call from Secretary of Education John King requesting for more diverse teachers serving a more diverse national student-body.
Alexander explained the IMPACT program is not strictly a program through the College of Education, but an initiative of the university as a whole to increase diversity in education.
Project IMPACT members will work closely with The Rowan Men of Color Network, which includes superintendents, principals and teachers from local schools who will provide mentoring for the young men throughout their college education in the program. This will possibly lead many of the men to careers in education.
Freshman history education major and Project IMPACT participant Marcus King heard about the program from his mother and says it offers a clear path for him to pursue a future in education.
For Amir Artis, the freshman biology education major, he heard about the program from his Burlington City High School guidance counselor.
“When I learned more about the program through her, I knew it was too good of an opportunity to give up,” Artis said.
Artis’ mentor, Burlington City School District Superintendent Patricia Doloughty, has assured him a job if he successfully completes the program.
“It’s so comforting to know I’ll have somewhere to go after graduation,” Artis said.
College of Education Dean Monica Williams Shealey said she’s received a number of phone calls from other institutions inquiring about the program.
“We’ve had a tremendously positive response, especially considering it’s the first program of its kind,” Shealey said. “I think it’s so important that this is a university commitment to address a national problem of diversity locally.”
Unlike a program funded through a grant, which usually disappears when the funding does, Project IMPACT is sustainable over time, Shealey said.
Alexander also noted the program is a broader indication that in education, there should be a seat for everyone.
“This is a huge opportunity for all of us and it’s awesome that Rowan actually lets this happen,” Artis said. “I had a moment the other day where I was like, ‘Wow I’m really going to school,’ and I’m really thankful for that.”
The program’s inauguration ceremony was held during the first week of classes.
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