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Meet Jason Terrell of Profound Gentlemen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jason Terrell.

Jason, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I spent my childhood in South West Atlanta, off of Campbellton Road. My parents were pushed into parenthood in high school so I was raised by a village of grandparents, uncles, aunts, community members who all contributed to my growth and values. My core values are Community and Identity. I deeply believe in the power of collective consciousnesses rooted in identity that’s self-affirming. I’ve sat and listened to my grandmother, tell me about her father, who was a victim of the Tuskegee Experiment. His father was enslaved in the American South. I remember my grandfather, he passed away when I was 15, but he was a Business Owner in Atlanta. He was kept out of the PGA because he was a Black Man. The stories of my elders are coded within me, so I can’t help but continue their journey. I chose to work in education. I believe that I have a responsibility to be a bridge between capital and community. Capital in all sense- social, financial, and cultural. I started off my career as a Middle School English teacher, building on my students’ genius but also connecting them capital to navigate in the world through language, writing, and self-expression. My students poured into me and inspired me to Co-Found and lead a national agency dedicated to increasing the 2% of male educators of color. This role has pushed me to access social capital. Currently, I am the Executive Director of Profound Gentlemen. We build communities of male educators of color who have answered the call to impact and teach students. Not only are we building bonds between men of color, but we also build links between investors, policymakers, students, and parents who share a similar belief. I am continuing my journey but will continue using the prayers of my community to ground me.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Leading a nonprofit is tough, especially a nonprofit that’s led by folks of color. According to Bridgespan, white-led groups had budgets that were 24 percent larger than those led by people of color. It also found that groups led by black women received less money than those led by black men or white women. I’ve been directly impacted by this trend. Starting Profound Gentlemen in 2015 took sacrifice. Not only did I leave my job teaching, but I took a pay cut, downsized my car and apartment at the time, and took on part-time jobs to ensure that resources were flowing into the organization. The sacrifices paid off. I was awarded the gift of time and energy. I had time to work on building the organization and investing back into my vision. I recognize that I am privileged to take a pay cut and downsize without major responsibilities. Since starting PG, I have a new set of responsibilities, wife and baby boy that to keep me grounded as I navigate the work in a new season.

Profound Gentlemen – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Profound Gentlemen (PG) was founded in 2014 by two North Carolina male teachers of color, Jason Terrell and Mario Jovan Shaw. Both Jason & Mario Jovan intimately know the culture of hard work and dedication to students, but they also know how challenging it is to be a male educator of color without peers of a similar background to look to for support.

Jason and Mario had conversations about educational equity, student achievement, and their experiences of being one of the few men of color in their schools– so they began Profound Gentlemen, Inc. It all started with educators, or “Gentlemen” joining local monthly meetups for male teachers of color across the nation. After securing a fellowship through Echoing Green, Jason and Mario began to scale their program to support over 350 members across the country through the use of online tools.

With students of color representing more than 50% of the K-12 population, less than 20% of the teacher population reflects this demographic. The numbers are even more stark when examining black male representation in the education profession. Nationally, less than 2% of all educators are male educators of color, and they are 5x more likely to leave the education profession than other demographics (Lewis 2012).

Dr. Chance Lewis, Urban Education Professor, and Researcher at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte reports that males of color in education leave or never enter the field because of the lack of mentorship, barriers to navigate the profession, lack of professional development, and the lack of opportunities to get into the profession. Increasing the representation of males of color in education benefits the students and community with culturally-based instruction and overall higher expectations.

A study from Johns Hopkins University found that when teachers of color are present in the classroom, there are greater opportunities for them to move on through higher education– dismantling the cradle to prison pipeline. Profound Gentlemen directly supports male educators of color in their personal and professional journey to serving as educational leaders through its programming.

Now serving nearly 500 male educators of color across the nation, and employing over 30 staff members, Profound Gentlemen, Inc. is committed to building communities of male educators of color who offer a profound additional impact on boys of color. Our vision is to retain education leaders who dismantle the cradle to prison pipeline by establishing a cradle to career pipeline for boys of color. Our strategy is to utilize trained male educators of color who serve as peer mentors for our Gentlemen called Impact Leaders. Impact Leaders guide Gentlemen on a professional development track to build their impact and leadership.

How It Works:

Get In: Current and future male educators “Gents” who identify as Black or Hispanic join a PG cohort of their peers to participate in the Program Model. Cohorts are led by current peer practitioners called Impact Leaders.

Empower: Gents have one-on-ones with Impact Leaders to establish and monitor goals based on our 3-C Focus Areas: Character Development, Content Support, and Community Leadership. Each educator receives at least 20 hours of one-on-one coaching per academic year. Coaching consists of real-time support and outside professional development. Goal achievement and tracking are captured on Impact Plans in collaboration with the Impact Leader.

Network: During the year, Gentlemen participate in one-on-one coaching, leadership retreats, community-building experiences, tailored workshops, and conferences, to help them meet their goals. Each educator attends at least one intensive retreat, at least two community-building experiences, and has access to nearly 50 hours of workshop experiences and access to at least one conference opportunity. With nearly 44 hours of leadership development per academic year, educators can maximize their impact in the field of education.

The Impact: Throughout the year, Profound Gentlemen will provide opportunities for Gentlemen to share their impact through session facilitation, community-building experiences, and peer shadowing. Profound Gentlemen will measure the impact and matriculation of Gents through the mid-year and end-of-year self-reporting survey. Profound Gentlemen will provide quarterly success metrics to inform progress.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
We could not do this work without partners and our team. The PG Team comprises of over 30 FT & PT team members who work tirelessly to support educators in and outside of the classroom and to continue to build a community of male educators of color.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Profound Gentlemen

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