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Rodney D. Pierce, a seventh-year middle school social studies teacher in Nash County Public Schools, was named one of the Marathon Teaching Institute’s African American Male Teachers of the Year this past weekend. 

The Roanoke Rapids resident was among 11 award-winners during the MTI’s first Edutalk:  African American Male Educator Conference and Awards Gala held at the Alfonso Elder Student Union on the campus of North Carolina Central University in Durham. 

The one-day event’s agenda included speakers, panel discussions, and workshops where attendees could share and discuss ways to continue to impact student achievement and recruit the next generation of Black male educators. 

“I am truly, truly honored, and flattered to receive this,” Pierce said of the award. “To be recognized by my fellow Black male educators is an indescribable feeling. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Dr. (Roderick) Heath, (Quintin) Murphy, the Marathon Teaching Institute, and the NCCU School of Education for this recognition.”

Heath, the director of NCCU’s Male Achievement Center and African American Male Achievement Initiative, said of Pierce’s honor: “If one is ever to see Rodney’s to-do list or student improvement plan, one would ask him where does he find the time, but he does it well.” Heath said, “Mr. Pierce is not only an advocate for his students, but all students. Even to the point that he is now running for the school board in Halifax County.”

The Marathon Teaching Institute is an initiative that started in 2021 through the NCCU School of Education. 

It is designed to increase the number of minority male, particularly African American male, teachers, principals, and superintendents in P-12 along with professors and administrators in higher education.

The MTI recruits, trains, and mentors these students though the School of Education’s Teacher Education Program to address the critical shortage of Black and minority male teachers in North Carolina schools. 

According to the NC Education Research Data Center, Black men made up just 3 percent of K-12 teachers in the state in 2017-18 while minority males — Black, Asian, American Indian, and Hispanic — were just under 4 percent. 

Pierce was the 2019 NC Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the Year and is a Fellow of Carolina Public Humanities, the Center for Racial Equity in Education, and the Public School Forum of NC. 

He has worked as an education consultant for the NC Museum of History, the NC Department of Public Instruction, the NC African American Heritage Commission, and Gibbs Smith Education. He sits on the NCPS Equity Council and on the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee.