Raymond Blanks had very few Black teachers when he was growing up in Newark, NJ. But the ones he did have, made a big impact on how he saw himself and what he believed he could be. Raymond’s 7th grade math and science teacher, Sean Lloyd, was one of them. Mr. Lloyd challenged Raymond to strive for excellence, both in and out of the classroom, and now Raymond is paying it forward.

Raymond is now a sixth grade math teacher at a charter school in Newark, NJ. One of only two Black male teachers there. 

In 2020, Black men made up only 2% of teachers across the country. And in Newark, where around half of the students are Black, Black men make up only about 8% of the teachers. 

Photo: Sean Lloyd (left) and Raymond Blanks receiving their Masters degrees. Courtesy of Raymond Blanks.

Raymond stayed in touch with Sean through high school and college. When Raymond started teaching, he received his first job from Sean, at a school that Sean helped co-found. They eventually even received their Master’s degrees together. The two had a conversation using StoryCorps Connect, to talk about how Sean’s passion for his students shaped Raymond’s career path, and deepened their friendship.

Top Photo: Raymond Blanks and Sean Lloyd. Courtesy of Sean Lloyd and Raymond Blanks.