In a fifth-grade classroom at Monroe Elementary School near Minneapolis, a teacher named Thetis White was recently celebrated, while his students and a camera crew looked on.
The teacher was being presented one of those giant ceremonial checks, as if he’d won a sweepstakes. The check was big—for $50,000. But this was no raffle prize.
White had overcome great odds. As a Black man teaching in America, he is part of the 2 percent of the teaching workforce that fit that demographic.
The check is to pay off his student loans, to make his choice of a career in teaching less of a financial sacrifice.
The person handing out the check was Markus Flynn, executive director of the nonprofit Black Men Teach, which supports Black male educators. Flynn is one himself—as a part-time teacher in a Minneapolis school.