Mario Jovan Shaw and Jason Terrell discuss Profound Gentlemen, the movement they created to help build and retain communities of male educators of color. Shockingly, 40% of all early career teachers will leave the field, but for men of color, that number is 25% higher. Mario and Jason are working to develop black male school teachers to positively impact the graduation rates, self-esteem and lifelong success of boys of color.
Mario and Jason are both the co-founder and co-chief executive officer of Profound Gentlemen. Mario taught seventh grade and also created a program called the BrotherHood, which addresses the needs of young black males in the classroom. Jason spent three years as a teacher and served as a mentor, athletic coach, and tutor for students. Don’t miss this episode in its entirety – it’s too good to skip!
The Start of Profound Gentlemen
- Mario and Jason met through Teach For America.
- Teach for America places recently graduated students into places where teachers are needed.
- They train you for 6 weeks, and during that training, Jason and Mario were roommates – they talked a lot about what type of educators they wanted to be.
- Mario was selected to be followed by Teach for America to show what he was doing in his classroom.
- He decided to use this platform as a way to talk about why we need more black male teachers.
- The story was picked up and Mario and Jason then decided to apply for Teach for America’s recruitment team.
- They didn’t receive the job, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise because they then decided to start Profound Gentlemen.
- Profound Gentlemen is now going on year 4.
Places and Cultures
- Different places breed different cultures – while DC has younger educators, Chicago is more of charter school movement and has older teachers.
- Because of the different cultures, it’s important to provide different events that meet the needs of that particular culture.
- In DC, they will hold brunches, while in Chicago they will do a Thursday Happy Hour.
- But in the south, where they can get more people to come out on a Friday night, they will hold socials on Friday nights.
- When you are connecting with communities, it’s important to keep their culture in mind.
The Challenges They Faced
- Finances has been the biggest challenge throughout their journey.
- They quit their jobs, sold their cars, and moved to an apartment in the hood.
- They worked out of coffee shops, had long nights and a lot of hustle – it took a year and a half before they were able to make money.
- During this time, they developed relationships and learned how to budget, read financial statements and how to write a grant.
- Through working with mentors, they learned how to make the business side work. Once it clicked, it clicked.
- Since then, they have received grant after grant and have been able to keep growing.
- Mario compares hard times being like seeds – when you plant a seed in the ground its dark. But then roots start to grow and once it sprouts you begin to see results.
- But before it sprouts, you have to nurture the seeds. You’re growing through the hard times.
- Movements start with a small group of people who believe in something, so if you truly believe, stand for that.
- It’s important to know your morals and values and stay true to them.
- Change was never made by playing it safe – the right opportunity will come if you stick to your goals.
- People tend to over-compromise on things that they shouldn’t or don’t want to. Don’t lose your morals or values in order to get an accomplishment – the right way is there, too, you just have to find it.
- Get creative by reading everything to give you a well-rounded perspective.
Maintaining is a lot harder than starting. Because once you start, you have nothing to lose, you’re at the bottom. So you just go up to the top. But once you have it, now you have to keep the momentum going and increase it. And that actually a lot more challenging. ([25:08])
We’re comparing our inside selves to their highlight reels. ([27:54])
Believe, that when people are not following you, you have at the end of the day, really truly believe, that this is something that you are called to do. And you’ll see the signs. ([28:41])
And the reason why so many people DON’T live out their dreams, is because it is difficult. ([32:04])
When you’re starting a movement, typically the movement is not popular. If you think your movement is going to be popular, when you first start, you’re just doing the norm. ([38:08])
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