Cardinal Ritter Prep’s Black male educators make a difference in students’ lives

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – A picture celebrating Black male educators at Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School has gone viral.

The photo was taken on the first day of school to show the school’s commitment to diversity and representation.

“There’s an honor and respect for it here that just isn’t in other places,” says Principal, Dr. Craige Edwards. “Not only do I love these students, but I love this mission.”

“Seeing them able to transition and improvise and to give back to their community and people that look their color that’s amazing to me,” says senior Marvin Burks. “It’s inspiring to let me know that I can be in their shoes one day.”

“Our presence here and what we’re doing is immeasurable,” says teacher Randy Reed.

Reed has been teaching for 32 years.

“That Black male figure in the classroom that kids see on a daily basis is really their second or bonus father,” says Reed. “If two or three kids believe in leadership over the streets that can make a huge difference.”

African American men make up 2 percent of teachers across the country. Cardinal Ritter’s Black male staff defies that statistic as 40 percent of its staff are Black men.

“They need to see that these roles are attainable and that there is value in education led by African Americans,” says Enrollment Director Eric Cooper.

“I’ve never had a male or Black male teacher until I came here so it just really meant a lot for me,” says senior Imarion Griffin.

The staff tells News 4 the success of its students has been life-changing for many single-parent households. Cooper says there are many stories where the men have helped local mothers foster and raise their sons.

“She gave us her baby. We nurtured him. We got him together. We brought out the greatness that was already inside of him, ”says Cooper. “Now he’s graduated and received a full athletic scholarship to play college basketball and she thanks us every day.”

According to Cardinal Ritter, the school has a 100 percent graduation and college acceptance rate and more than 80 percent of its students graduate college.

“We can talk to them differently, especially as a young woman you don’t have that many male figures in your life,” says senior Zion Cannon. “It’s a lot of things that someone would need a father figure for growing up and they serve as that.”

“They just really motivate me to be the best,” Griffin says.

This year, Cardinal Ritter welcomed its largest freshman class in the school’s 40-year history. The school’s principal hopes that universities and colleges will partner with area high schools to create a pipeline to bring in more Black male teachers.

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