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Call for more men of color in classrooms

Royston Maxwell Lyttle | 11/8/2017, 4:52 p.m.

Boys who grow up with only female teachers and role models don’t have this opportunity. Children tend to mimic influential individuals in their lives. They benefit from strong, Black male teachers who lead by example.

This is something I learned from a student while working in Washington, D.C.

He was a young boy whose behavioral issues were hindering his ability to learn. Without a father figure in his life, his mother was struggling to get through to him. Upon sitting down with the boy in hopes of identifying the root of these problems, I was surprised to find he had just one request: to spend time together.

After our first outing to the movies, his attitude and school work improved dramatically. I didn’t have to employ any complicated learning tactic or psychological theory to help this child-I just had to be there and listen. Over the remainder of the year, I watched him grow into a successful and happy student. That experience left me determined to be someone my students can always rely on and look up to in and outside of the classroom.

Investing in the future

As we look to the future of early childhood education, I urge parents, teachers, lawmakers and communities to invest in ways to bring diversity to the classroom.

I also challenge my fellow Black men who are passionate about education to buck the norm, ignore the stigma and put the children first.

As a Black male principal, I feel it is my duty to spread this message and be a catalyst for change in order to create a more diversified environment for our children to learn in. I have found there is nothing more rewarding than seeing a student succeed against all odds due to the lessons you have taught them. I encourage more Black men to join me in this journey.

Royston Maxwell Lyttle is the principal for grades 1-3 of the Eagle Academy Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. He advocates for high-quality education for all students to allow them to reach their full academic potential regardless of their social or economic background.