Happy Hour brings together more than 100 men of color who teach in Newark


Newark, New Jersey —  My Brother’s Keeper Newark, an initiative of the Opportunity Youth Network, partnered with the Chad School Foundation and Newark Trust for Education to host the second annual Happy Hour for Men of Color who Teach in Newark at TRYP Hotel in downtown Newark. More than 100 educators, administrators and advocates from public, private and charter schools gathered together Friday to celebrate their small, but mighty, community of teachers in Newark. 

Robert Clark, CEO of the Opportunity Youth Network, thanked the crowd of educators for “being in the trenches,” while also encouraging them to bring more men of color into the classroom with them.

“Every day we teach. Every day we model. Every day – whether we know it or not – we mentor, so I want you all to stay encouraged in the work,” he said.

Eric E. Stevenson, Executive Director of the Chad School Foundation, added “We are here to celebrate this demonstration of responsibility that you men have undertaken by becoming teachers in our community. Chad recognizes the importance of men of color who teach. I am honored to represent Chad and to stand with you tonight.”

The event brought together a broad cross-section of men in education — some squarely in the classroom, others on the school board and advocates in the education arena. In clusters throughout the room, teachers were describing their students’ breakthroughs while others were sharing details from the latest study on the school to prison pipeline. The vibe was a celebration of the diversity across Newark and the representation in the city’s classrooms, but as the room continued to fill, there was one consistent conversation – there still isn’t enough men of color teaching in Newark schools.

Among the guests was Superintendent Roger León, who began his remarks with a sobering data from last year’s report that showed black males as the lowest performers in English, language arts and mathematics. Latino males were slightly ahead, “but not by a lot,” León said. “Nothing to distinguish our hats on just yet.”

Recent data suggests black males in Newark are performing better in 2019 than in years prior, however, trends still show black males are being over classified in special education and they’re not on pace academically with their peers. Still, in just a year, León said there’s been significant improvements for black males.

Earlier this year, educators across the state spoke at a special joint hearing of the Senate Education and Higher Education Committees addressing  the lack of diversity in state teachers. The U.S. Department of Education’s 2016 report on the State of Racial Diversity noted teachers of color help close achievement gaps for non-white students, while also enriching the academic experience and providing a strong role model for students of color. Diversity and representation remains a key piece of Leon’s solution to achievement,  he said, and to support this initiative, he announced a state-funded $750,000 diversifying teacher pipeline grant through Montclair State University to support more diversity in teaching. 

I know that we can fix it. Not only do I know that we can fix it, I know that we’re going to fix it,” he said.

MBK Newark, The Chad School Foundation and The Newark Trust for Education presented several opportunities to get involved and mentor young men of color in Newark. 

Visit newark-oyn.org/get-involved to advocate, volunteer or partner with the Opportunity Youth Network.

Visit thechadschoolfoundation.org to give involved with The Chad School Foundation. 

Visit newarktrust.org to get involved with The Newark Trust for Education.