I’m excited about sharing the story of Thomas Murphy. Thomas is a community leader turned teacher. After witnessing first hand the work being produced by Profound Gentlemen, he took encouraging other males to lead youth in community programs and classrooms. He’s a great example of how men can be leaders in communities and classrooms.

Male educators of color are bringing much needed change to communities and classrooms.

Murphy supports PG’s mission and acts as an advocate of the organization by empowering new male teachers of color to connect to it’s unique services and training.  Thomas shares intricate aspects of his journey with me as I’m sharing with you on this platform.

My call to action for school board leaders, parents and advocates is to find organizations like Profound Gentlemen and the Center for Black Educators on ways to recruit, retain and train educators on social justice issues.

What are your thoughts on schools partnering with local non profit organizations in efforts to build engagement of men?

School partnerships with nonprofit organizations can be infused in the fabric of the school and can create a working relationship to address many of the social ills that our schools and youth face today. Nonprofits can assist in handling the pitfalls facing society, school and the students. My nonprofits provide educational supports and tutorial programs, wrap around services relate to social injustices, educational disparities, teenage parenting issues, career and educational exploration, as well as creating clubs, and activities that are of interest to the students by our organization before, during, and after school as supported through nonprofit programming. 

This is where I started this process by implementing services to aid and assist at-risk male to begin setting higher academic and career goals.

We discovered through positive interaction that our youth needed support and advocacy in our school and within neighborhood programming. Specifically, we lacked positive role models, male educators that look like them, and experienced counselors at the heart of these programs servicing the community.  Moreover, these programs needed leadership with a cohesive synergy to engage building trusting relationships with the families they were serving.

What is your perspective on why we still have large numbers of Black and brown boys not graduating or staying in school? 

Many boys of color have been passed over in life, and are never held responsible, or expected to hold any type of leadership role in their family or in society. Leadership and officials have very low expectations of this group to perform or accomplish much and when they do reach their full potential it is a rags to riches success story.  One of the main reasons that I believe we still have a large number of black and brown boys not staying in school today is that we don’t really put forth the effort to engage and challenge them, set educational goals and achieve them. 

It seems apparent that our public schools refuse to challenge boys of color as a whole in helping them reach their full potential. 

This specific targeted group of at-risk boys of color has always been the one that are being left behind, placed in special education classes, removed out and least likely to be given support and positive reinforcement to achieve and perform at a high level. I believe we should intensify the direct service to better serve young men of color and improve the dropout rate in our public school setting. Our schools should implement an intensive way to educate and challenge this group to strive to compete at an extremely high level. 

All at-risk male student’s, can be given individual educational learning skills, mental and health assessments, personality tests, s.m.a.r.t. goal setting, as well as character development that builds their self-esteem through culture leads to academic excellence. All presented with a very high focus to raise their support level at the early pre-high school services to establish a stronger foundation toward determining their skills, talents, and interest as lifelong learners from the beginning of 8th grade. 

Why did you start teaching?

It was my past experiences combined with deep rooted concerns for the plight of  our youth that made a great formula that allowed me to transition into teaching full time. When, I realized that the school system needed Black men to consider teaching so students could benefit from someone looking like them. It became a necessity to aid and assist in the education uplift of young men of color that were at risk of failing.  

Here I am almost 10 years later still teaching and challenging students to learn, grow and develop their personal skills to compete as 21st Century lifelong learners.

Through community activism, I became actively involved in my community, and began challenging youth to set higher academic and career goals. Starting, as a Certified Substitute Teacher, focusing on mathematics. It was clear to me that students needed help as well as a role model to encourage them to set higher goals. I began having a mound of successful encounters with students learning and it provided a positive avenue for reaching and building relationships with students all across the city. 

What is one stereotype about Black boys that you work to dispel? Is it important for teachers to be able to identify with Black boys?  

I would like to dispel the myth that black boys don’t have the capabilities of leadership, discipline, and accountability toward their successful life outcomes.  Another is that the school is and should be a safe place for them to learn, grow up and develop their interpersonal and interpersonal communication skills. Lastly, I would like to dispel the idea that teacher’s, are not the police but are front line resources for Black boys to equip them with the appropriate life skill necessary in being productive citizens in society.   

I want Black boys to understand their power in developing a strong sphere of influence. Moreover, they must see themselves as leaders, building positive ways to impact their school, community and state.

I decided to become a teacher to help with developing a positive imagery of men leading a productive classroom. Black male educators should display the conduct and behavior that our Black boys should desire to emulate. Our journey and wisdom should bring a wealth of knowledge, strength, and resilience to a classroom of diverse students. 

Male educators, must I say, play a major role in Black boys development and should display the right method of patience necessary to discipline, motivate and challenge students as they are guiding them in reaching their full potential.

Thomas Murphy grew up in Mansfield, Ohio. He has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology, with a minor in Political Science, MBA with concentration In International Finance. He’s the Founder/CE of In the Spirit of UJIMA, Inc. a nonprofit 501 C 3 organization that provides an advocacy, intervention, prevention, and awareness program for Black boys.