N ew Orleans program aims to create more pathways to classrooms for black teachers, especially men

Katy Reckdahl:

Two years ago, Nathaniel Albert walked into a first grade classroom at Andrew H. Wilson Charter School in New Orleans and quietly made connections with children. Soon, he became an indispensable part of their school day.

“When he wasn’t there, the students would ask, ‘Where were you?’ ” said teacher Kierston James, 40, who oversaw Albert, a fellow with the Brothers Empowered to Teach (BE2T) Initiative. The program recruits college-age people of color, particularly African American men, and pays them stipends to work in schools in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

At Wilson, as at many New Orleans public schools, most students are black — and it was Albert’s personal mission to reach them. “Even with the ones that were shy, Nathaniel would always push up his chair: ‘What you reading? What can you tell me about it?’ And on the playground, he’d go play with them,” James said.