(COLUMBIA, SC) – Richland School District Two Superintendent Dr. Baron R. Davis has been named a 2021 Leader to Learn From for his leadership in equity, a recognition from Education Week. Education Week is a K-12 education news and information magazine.
The Leaders to Learn From program highlights cutting-edge district leaders who drew on the foundations they laid and a wellspring of strong relationships to meet their students’ and staffs’ needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges of the school year.
In the fall of 2019, the district hosted its PREMIER 100 Kickoff Summit, where Dr. Davis announced the Premier 100, a plan to recruit 100 minority male teachers to the district by2024. Currently, 6% of Richland Two’s teachers are Black men, which is better than the national percentage of 2%. To meet its goal, the district is partnering with organizations like the Call Me MISTER initiative, founded at Clemson University in South Carolina. MISTER, which stands for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models, recruits Black men to be teachers, particularly in the elementary grades. In February 2020, not long before the pandemic shut down schools across the nation, 200 program members visited the district for a day of service.
Quoted in the article Roy Jones, the executive director of the Call Me MISTER initiative, praised Davis’s “bold declaration.”
“I mean it has to start with that, and he’s fearless about making that a priority,” said Jones , who pointed out that the hiring and retention initiative has been embraced by the district’s board leadership.
In the article Dr. Davis spoke about his experience as a minority male educator and the caliber of male teachers he wants to attract to the district.
“We’re interested in people who are interested in being academic giants,” Davis said. “I’m not looking at men who can keep the boys in check.”
One of Davis’s goals, he acknowledged, is more abstract than just increasing the sheer number of minority educators in the district. He’s also hoping to add teachers who feel comfortable being themselves in the classroom while also providing strong instruction.
“I want all teachers, including teachers of color, to be authentically themselves in the classroom. I believe that many of them think they have to leave who they really are outside of the classroom. They leave out certain things that would accentuate the educational experience that they deliver for their students,” he said.
“I want to create a place where they can be genuine,” Davis said. “Otherwise, I don’t think they can be at their best.”
Nearly a decade ago Education Week began Leaders to Learn From, a project to spotlight some of the nation’s best K-12 district leaders—highlighting their innovative strategies, profiling their track records of success, and sharing their insights and successes with the field at large.