SHAKER HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - There is a shortage of African-American male teachers nationwide, but Shaker Heights Schools' superintendent believes he has a solution so the educators will look as diverse as the classroom they teach.
Lyndon Brooks' goal was to teach in his hometown, but at Woodbury Elementary School in Shaker Heights, you won't find too many teachers who look like him.
"I've been teaching for five years and I've spent the past three years in Shaker Heights and it's been an excellent experience," said Brooks.
Brooks is one of three African-American male teachers in his school. He teaches fifth grade science.
Out of 436 teachers in the Shaker Heights School District, just 14 are African-American men. National statistics point to a larger issue, according to Superintendent Dr. Gregory Hutchings.
"Right now, African-American males only make up 2 percent of the teaching force and that's out of 5 million teachers across the nation," said Hutchings.
Hutchings says that many African-American males shy away from the education field for a number of reasons, but he says they are needed.
"A lot of the research shows that students perform better when they have teachers or staff members in their schools that look like them," Hutchings explained.
"We'll pay housing for a full year, as well as a stipend," said Hutchings.
The end of the fellowship leads to a five-year teaching contract with the district, plus fellows will receive tuition reimbursement for a doctorate degree at Cleveland State University.
The African-American Male Teacher Initiative is set to begin in the 2017-2018 school year.
Brooks believes this program will make an impact.
"I think they need to see African-American men teaching in classrooms, and to see how we view the world, so it can give them another perspective," said Brooks.