Hamilton County Schools Launches Male Teachers of Color (MTOC) Mentorship Program

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Male Teachers of Color (MTOC) Mentorship Program

Hamilton County Schools (HCS) has launched a new initiative to support and retain male teachers of color (MTOC) within the district. The program, known as the Male Teachers of Color Mentorship Program, aims to increase representation, professional development, and create a supportive community for MTOCs.

This program comes amidst a national landscape where only 2% of male teachers are people of color. While exceeding the national average at 3%, HCS acknowledges the need to further cultivate a diverse teaching staff that reflects the student population.

“The district has said multiple times that they are committed to the diversity of our teaching staff matching the diversity of our students, but that does not happen by accident; it has to be intentional,” noted Arthur Williams, Instructional Coach at East Ridge Elementary.

Through MTOC, HCS hopes to not only empower male educators of color, but also foster a more inclusive learning environment for all students.

“Being part of the first cohort and interacting with MTOC has been enlightening,” said Michael Mitchell from Barger Academy. “Observing the ratio of Black male teachers to Black male students was a pivotal moment, motivating me to encourage students to consider leadership and teaching roles.”

Research highlights the positive impact of Black male educators, particularly on Black male students from low-income backgrounds. Studies show that exposure to a Black teacher in elementary school can significantly decrease high school dropout rates for these students.

Octavius Lanier, English Language Arts Teacher at The Howard School, championed the benefits of the MTOC mentorship program. 

“Overall, learning that you don’t have to be the only one (MTOC) in the room,” he said. “You have the chance to connect with other people who will praise you for not only being a person with a diverse background, but for all your accomplishments.”

The mentorship program offers various resources and opportunities to MTOCs–including quarterly meetings to foster professional development and building a supportive community; mentorship that provides personalized guidance and growth opportunities; and training that equips MTOCs with the skills to recruit other male educators of color.

The program aligns with Hamilton County Schools’ broader vision of Opportunity 2030, which emphasizes creating an environment where all staff feel valued and empowered.

The first cohort of MTOC will visit the BOND (Building Our Network of Diversity) Academy, the inspiration for MTOC, led by Dr. Cheryl McCray. Looking ahead, MTOC plans to focus on training for recruiting other male teachers of color. Additionally, next year’s cohort will expand to allow each MTOC member to invite an additional participant, and the Female Teachers of Color (FemTOC) program will be introduced.