DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – There’s an effort underway to diversify Dallas ISD’s teaching population. The district wants to make sure its teachers accurately represent the students they serve.

Growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, Jairus McClinton was surrounded by teachers who looked like him.

“That’s not common around the world, but it was common in my world,” he said. “The area I grew up in was predominately black and because of the area that I grew up in, they insured that we had Black male teachers and Black female teachers that I could look up to, that I could go up to. To have their support, to have their understanding because they’ve been in the situations I‘ve been in… for me, it’s vitally important. For the most part, you don’t see a lot of Black male teachers in the school system.”

Back in June, the district’s school board unanimously approved the “Resolution on the Commitment of Dallas ISD to Black Students and Black Lives” and the decision was made to hire and place thirteen Black male educators in campuses with a high percentage of black students. McClinton was one of the first hires.

“The research shows that when students have teachers who looks like them at the elementary campus then they’re more likely to graduate college and be career ready,” Dallas ISD’s Human Capital Management Deputy Chief John Vega said.

This semester, McClinton is learning the ropes by serving as an adjunct professor. He’s assisting a Pre-AP English teacher at Lincoln High School. The Racial Equity Office is also teaching him how to understand and address equity issues and students’ cultural, social and emotional needs. Next semester, he‘ll get his own class.

“Because of what’s going on in the world right now, it is vitally important that we have this going on in the school system,” he said. “I feel very blessed. I feel like it’s a mission of mine given to me by God at this point so that our culture as a whole can grow.”

Erin Jones