AGGIES IN THE NEWS
N.C. A&T Alumnus Co-Founds School for African American Boys in Washington, D.C.
In today’s society where so many negative statistics are facing African American males, Rictor Craig ’03 has made it his life’s mission to empower and educate boys of color. A former teacher and principal, he is now the founding director of instruction at Statesmen College Preparatory Academy for Boys located in Washington, D.C.
“Working in education for more than 15 years, I noticed early on in my profession that boys of color are undervalued in the school system and I knew that I had to be intentional on how I reached my students,” said Craig.
Since graduating from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2003, Craig, a native of Chattanooga, TN., has always been dedicated to the field of education. For four years, he taught in the Baltimore City Public Schools working as a high school English teacher, and in 2011 he enrolled in a leadership training program for principals. In addition, he was mentored for a year by a principal, worked as a resident principal for New Leaders for New Schools and served as a principal fellow for Relay Graduate School of Education. In 2012, he became a middle school principal at Friendship Public Charter School system and was able to increase the school’s performance rate and elevate the school to tier one status within one year.
“I have always loved being an educator but I wanted to increase my direct impact, and equally as important, make an impact in the lives of young boys of color,” said Craig. “I set a goal years ago to be instrumental in starting a school and eventually I had to take a leap of faith in order for this to happen.”
In 2017 fate knocked at Craig’s door when Shawn Hardnett, the founder and executive director of Statemens, reached out to him and a team of other men about starting a school for boys of color. The vision for the school would help change the outlook and statistics surrounding African American males in order to help them to achieve academic excellence.
“This opportunity has been a dream come true. We took an entire year to interview 500 black boys in grades third through 12th, and 200 successful men of color to understand what they needed and how they wanted to be educated. We also researched data on how boys of color experienced and dealt with trauma,” said Craig.
Founded in 2018, Statesmen College Preparatory Academy for Boys is a public charter school with a mission to create a boy-friendly pedagogy-informed academic environment for African American boys. The school currently serves grade fourth, and plans to grow each year until they reach full capacity in grades fourth through eighth. The school currently has 60 students currently enrolled.
Since the announcement of the school’s opening this year, the leadership team Craig have been featured on The Steve Harvey Show and their story has been picked up on several television and radio stations. In addition, the school’s story has seen a lot of success on social media especially the first day of school video on Facebook and a special tribute video from BET’s Facebook page.
“Through this process, I have learned that the most important foundation for our school is to love first and that every day is not going to be the same because these boys are dealing with things outside of school that cause significant distractions. With consistent love and high expectations, we have seen significant shifts in our boys already. I have also learned that in order for boys of color to excel, they need to be in an environment where people believe in them and want to see them win, where they can have healthy competition amongst their counterparts, and be affirmed for who they are and what they will become everyday” said Craig.
For anyone interested in supporting the growth of Statesmen College Preparatory Academy for Boys, please visit www.statesmenboys.org.