Dr. Marcus L. Martin

The African-American Teaching Fellows—a group addressing the achievement gap by increasing the numbers of African-American educators—will host the 4th annual John E. Baker Legacy dinner Friday.

Named for the first elected African-American member of the Albemarle County School Board, the Baker Legacy Dinner serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit and offers a chance to honor local African-American leaders who are committed to education.

“In 2014, AATF will provide over $40,000 of direct tuition support to students seeking teacher licensure, and our Fellows will work with over 1,300 students in the local schools,” said Ravenn Gethers, the group’s executive director. “Proceeds generated by the John E. Baker Legacy Dinner help make this possible.”

This year the African-American Teaching Fellows will honor two community members who exemplify Baker’s legacy.

Dr. Marcus L. Martin will receive the John E. Baker Legacy Award, and Pearl Early will receive the Community Education Award.

“Dr. Marcus Martin is one of the most influential and dedicated community leaders for diversity, equity and education since John Baker,” said Will Harvey, the Legacy Dinner’s Planning Committee co-chair. “He finds time to serve on multiple boards, provides resources to just about every minority group that requests them [and] he finds time to mentor many boys and girls of color as the founding Vice President of the 100 Black Men of Central Virginia.”

Martin said that Baker and the organization’s other founders “got it right” when establishing the program, and that he has always worked to do the same.

“Whether in patient care, research, mentoring, teaching or community service, I have strived to get it right,” Martin said. “I am honored by this recognition and I hope I can truly live up to John Baker’s legacy.”

A student support specialist at Albemarle High School, Early also invests herself in building strong family connections.

“Ms. Early is providing exemplary leadership to involve parents in their child’s education through monthly meetings and activities to build relationships with the school,” said Bernard Hairston, Legacy Dinner Planning Committee co-chair.  

Matt Haas, Albemarle’s assistant superintendent, said the African-American Teaching Fellows’ efforts have increased the number of minority teachers in Charlottesville-Albemarle.

“Solely because of the Fellows, and together with Charlottesville City, we have added 13 teachers of color to our classrooms,” Haas said.

What’s more, Haas said, is the richness diversity brings to a learning environment.

“When you enrich the diversity of your faculty, students benefit from a deeper understanding of culture, life experiences, analytical thinking and teamwork,” Haas added.

Carole Nelson, Charlottesville’s director of human resources, also praised the effort.

“The most recent evidence of the value of the partnership is that during the 2014-15 school year, we have two new teachers and one student-teacher who came out of that program,” Nelson said.

And the program continues to grow, as this year’s cohort of Fellows totals 10.

“This is our largest cohort of Fellows since the inception of our program in 2004,” Gethers said. “We are excited about the impact these Fellows will have on the children in our community’s public schools.”

For more information, visit: http://www.aateachingfellows.org/

This story by Charlottesville Tomorrow references non-profit African-American Teaching Fellows. If you like what you have learned about their work, you can support them via Bubuti. You can also support Charlottesville Tomorrow the same way!