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ESSENCE spoke with this Atlanta teacher about the importance of children having a Black male role model in the classroom after he shared a now viral letter from a student saying, "I never met my real dad… but you treat me like your son." 

Mariya Moseley
May, 02, 2017

At a time when Black men make-up of just two percent of our nation’s teachers, this Atlanta educator is determined to make a difference.

Fifth grade teacher Jermaine Stubbs, recently shared a beautiful letter online about just how much he’s appreciated by one of his students. The letter, which has since gone viral, said, “… I look at you like my dad. I never met my real dad but it [is] okay because you treat me like I'm your son.” 

Since posting the letter, Stubbs' story has been shared on various platforms including Steve Harvey's Facebook page and The Shade Room. 

The full letter read: 

"To Mr. J, 

Thank you for being a awesome teacher and for being amazing! This school year was so fun and I enjoyed it because of you. I wish more teachers was like you. I will never forget you. I look at you like my dad. I never met my real dad but it okay because you treat me like I'm your son. You make me so happy. Always feeding me when I am hungry and hug me when I am sad. I will never forget you Mr. J. I love you and I will never forget about you!

Love Markus"

Stubbs told ESSENCE that after receiving the letter, he immediately got emotional. “I tried so hard not to tear up in front of everybody but I couldn’t help it.” 

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Stubbs mentioned that the letter from his student Markus wasn’t the first time one of his students have expressed their appreciation for him. After getting into a car accident a few months ago, he was welcomed back with kind words from another one of his pupils saying, “ I hope you are feeling better.” 

Stubbs, who teaches at Manning Oaks Elementary in Atlanta, expressed that it’s extremely important for him to be a good role model as the students are “always paying attention to how people carry themselves.”

Another way he adds value to his students lives is by comforting them during their times of need. One of those instances was when a student expressed concerns about being deported after President Donald Trump was elected last November.

For many of his students that come from a single-parent household, having a Black male in the classroom means a lot.

Stubbs said that he believes that being a part of the small group of Black men teaching our youth, is “important for kids that don’t have a father figure and don’t know which way to go in life."

The 24-year-old teacher, who has been teaching for about a year, said that he was inspired to go into education by his high school basketball coach/teacher.

“It’s a job for people with really true intentions to help kids inside and outside the classroom,” Stubbs told ESSENCE.