The Honoré Center for Undergraduate Achievement hosts an open house tonight. The program gives black male students full scholarships to Southern University at New Orleans — if they agree to work as teachers for two years after college.
In a sixth grade class at Langston Hughes Academy, students quietly fill out a worksheet on renewable energy. Donovan Woods approaches the ones that seem stumped or distracted, and helps them with their work.
Woods is a sophomore at SUNO in the the Honoré Center program. He spends two afternoons a week here. Woods is a rarity in classrooms these days. Nationwide, just 2% of public school teachers are African American men. That's a problem, says program director Warren Bell.
“This nation and our community in particular needs more African American males to manage some of those classrooms where they themselves came from,” Bell says. “We have no problem with other folks moving to New Orleans to come in and teach. But to have so few people from the New Orleans community, that's the piece we want to address.”
So the program recruits from local high schools. If a student earns a 20 ACT score, 2.5 GPA, and qualifies as low-income, he's eligible.
Donovan Woods says he's committed to teaching. “Culturally I think that I relate to the kids,” he says. “It's not just inside the classroom, I get them outside the classroom, there's a connection.”
When he graduates SUNO, he'd like to work at his alma matter, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Charter School.
Tonight’s open house runs from 6-7 p.m. at the University Conference Center on the SUNO Main Campus.