Oakland program empowers African American boys to success

- Empowering African American boys to succeed in school and in life is the goal of a unique initiative at the Oakland Unified School District.

The "Manhood Development Program" is changing the narrative for students who've often been left behind.

When 8th grade students step into "Mister Kevin's" classroom at Montera Middle School in Oakland, they're prepared for a different kind of lesson. Morning stretches help them look inward and provide time for positive reflection.

This class is part of the district's manhood development program designed specifically to lift up African American boys who've historically been disciplined at a disproportionate rate and have struggled academically. 

The office of African American Male Achievment has created these elective courses for more than 800 kids across the district from elementary students to high schoolers. 

All the classes taught by black male instructors who act as mentors instilling a sense of pride in their kids. 

"Mister Kevin" refers to all of his students as kings. "It's changing the narrative, the narrative they may see on TV or the way they may feel when they walk into a class, and when you actually hear I'm a king and you begin to embody that you begin to walk differently you begin to think differently."

This is Shann Watson's third year in the manhood development program, and like many others, he's seen his grades improve and his confidence soar.   
 
"This is like an opportunity to find what I can do in life and can do for the future," Watson said.
 
Across the board, the district has seen grades go up for African American boys and suspensions are down.
 
 
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