Athens State University recently celebrated the ribbon cutting of its new Center of Excellence in Education Diversity (CEED). CEED will house the University’s Men of Kennis program.
“The Men of Kennis program is increasing the number of men of color enrolling and graduating from the College of Education who prepare quality educators for today’s classroom,” said CEED Director and Men of Kennis Program Coordinator, Dr. Darlene Turner-White. “Research clearly states all students benefit from having a diverse educator for a diverse population of students. The Center of Excellence in Education Diversity (CEED) provides wraparound support to the Men of Kennis and other students to promote growth and development academically and personally. The center is a designated place of resources and where it is demonstrated COE is culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogy and best practices, especially when preparing men of color educators.”
“The Men of Kennis program is profoundly impactful and is personally a program I’m fully invested in,” said Jaylen Wiggins, Program Support Specialist for CEED. “As a man of color, throughout my childhood I was never fortunate enough to have a man of color as an educator. The underrepresentation of men of color as educators is not only something which was prevalent throughout my childhood but is still a common occurrence. Through the Men of Kennis program, we will be providing children with needed exposure to men of color as educators, which has been shown to increase confidence and comfortability while decreasing needed disciplinary actions.”
Athens State’s Men of Kennis program was created in 2020 to improve the pathway for students of color to become teachers in Alabama school districts. Data surrounding teaching and the diversity of teacher candidates on a national level shows that male teachers of color are under-represented in the workforce. These findings hold true in the North Alabama region, which spurred Athens State University’s College of Education to develop the Men of Kennis program to help increase the number of diverse teacher candidates and fill the local community’s need for African American and Hispanic male teachers.