Monday morning alarms mark the start of another school week. And as they pack lunches, check backpacks, and send their children to school, parents, and caregivers have high hopes that their kids will receive the best education— along with tenderness, love, and encouragement from their teachers. 

For some students, those hours at school are as fulfilling as their loved ones could ever hope they’d be. But when it comes to Black boys, in particular, experts say — and plenty of parents and caregivers know — that the culture of care from educators is lacking, which shows the need for more innovative approaches inside and outside the school setting to ensure students’ well-being and success. 

Brooklyn, New York, resident Alexandra Dormoy, 42, has been one of those caregivers. She helped raise three boys in her family starting when she was only 16 and saw first-hand the struggles they faced within the school system. 

Care culture is predicated on the highest of beliefs in children

Dormoy only had any idea what it was like to go to college from reading the young adult “Sweet Valley High” series as a teen. 

“We never had college tours or directions on how to sign up for college,” she says. 

Two decades later, as an adult, Dormoy adopted another boy, which refocused her attention on the Black male student experience in school. With her own son, she’s seen a shift toward acknowledging that a culture of care is needed to ensure Black boys succeed.

“The new avenues that are allotted for the kids are important to save our youths because it works to let a child know that their parents care, the teachers care, and the world cares about them and their education,” Dormoy says. 

“Care culture is predicated on the highest of beliefs in children,” Tyrone Howard, a professor of education at the University of California, Los Angeles, tells Word in Black. “When they are supported unconditionally, and they feel loved, they feel as if they have no limits to how far they can go.” 

Howard is one of the experts who participated in a recent webinar on “Defining a Culture of Care for Black Boys” hosted by the Race, Prosperity, and Inclusion Initiative at Brookings Institution

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