Dr. Patrick Washington of Promise Academy – Spring Hill.
A Memphis program to increase the number of men of color teaching and pursuing careers in education is working to benefit students in the Achievement School District. This connection is far from coincidental given that Dr. Patrick Washington, founder of the MAN UP Teacher Fellowship, is also the founding principal of one of the ASD’s signature schools, Promise Academy Elementary School – Spring Hill.
Dr. Washington remarked, “I’ve always been concerned about the lack of male presence in our schools particularly at the elementary level. I recognized early in my career the need to address this issue, and the timing to launch Man Up just seemed right at this point in my career.” In addition to his work with the Achievement School District, Dr. Washington has distinguished himself in service as a school leader with Shelby County Schools (Legacy Memphis City Schools) and as the School Superintendent for Benton County, Mississippi.
The specific mission of the MAN Up Teacher Fellowship is to “recruit, identify, and train highly effective male teachers of color.” The worthiness of and need for the organization’s mission is on one hand defined by the lack of black male teachers nationally – they make up less than 2% of the total U.S. teaching force. This focus on Black male teachers is also validated by a 2017 study which showed that Black students who are exposed to at least one Black teacher in grades 3 – 5 are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to attend college.
For Dr. Washington, the inspiration for this program is even deeper. It traces back to 1860 in Marshall County, Mississippi where a man born a slave would later in life defy the odds in becoming literate and help to teach former slaves to read at a time when it was against the law.
“My passion and commitment to this work can be traced back to my great-great grandfather Richard Adkins who recognized the transcending power of education. His courage and foresight placed me and many of my family members on the path to become college educated,” explained Dr. Washington.
Dr. Washington is a fifth-generation educator.
“Education is transcending. Education is freedom. Education affects eternity. MAN Up Teacher Fellowship is a necessary and timely movement that I believe will lead to remarkable change in the lives of the children that these men will teach.”