Madison has never had many black teachers, and now it faces another challenge in providing diverse role models for its students: a wave of black baby boomers nearing retirement.
Nearly 27 percent of the public school district’s African-American teachers, social workers, counselors and other front-line classroom professionals are at or over the district’s minimum retirement age of 55.
Henry Hawkins, an art teacher at Jefferson Middle School, has no plans to retire soon, but the 66-year-old who began teaching in the late 1960s sees the problem: As he’s watched his students become more and more diverse, the diversity among his colleagues has lagged.
“Part of the cycle is for students to be able to identify. It’s important in a sense to see oneself,” Hawkins said.