Penn GSE master’s student Tamir Harper shares his experience as a Black male educator in an alternative teaching program amidst a nationwide teacher shortage

June 28, 2023
Tamir Harper smiles with his students at Henry C. Lea School

Tamir Harper, a teacher at the Henry C. Lea School and master’s degree student at Penn GSE, recently shared with Penn Today that although “it’s exhausting sometimes” and “a lot of pressure,” being a Black male educator “is an honor.”

Harper, a native of Philadelphia and former public school student, is earning his master’s degree with GSE’s Urban Teaching Residency Program. The program enables Harper to earn his degree while working as a full-time teacher. Harper’s position is crucial as most Black male students never see themselves represented in their teachers.

“Students from my city deserve to have Black men in front of them every day to show them what’s possible,” said Harper. “And we’re going to be part of that profession, to reimagine it, and reshape it, and ensure that Black men are able to have education as a home in the future.” 

Penn GSE Dean Pam Grossman praised the alternative teacher education program as one method to encourage Black men to become educators. 

Read more about Harper’s journey and how GSE’s teacher education programs help support Black men in education here.

Image at top: UTR master's student Tamir Harper works with members of his 8th grade class at the Henry C. Lea School in spring 2023. Tamir discussed his experience teaching and the Black male teacher pipeline with Penn Today. Eric Sucar for University of Pennsylvania