a two girls using laptop with classmates

“Building on a successful launch, the Black Educator Initiative will be extended for 2024,” said John Padget, founder of the Golden Fleece Foundation (GFF), which supports the initiative.

“$30,000 fellowships are awarded to newly hired Black teachers willing to commit to live and teach in Monroe County, Florida,” said Terry Huff, chair of the Black Educator Initiative, who said new-to-county awardees receive $15,000 at the beginning of their first year. Then, coinciding with their continued employment, they receive $10,000 at the start of their second year, followed by $5,000 for their third year.

“I was thrilled to present the awards to the black educator fellows when school started last August,” Huff said.

Bryan Green, a GFF board member, said the Monroe County School District has about 1,500 black students — 16% of all students — but only 24 black teachers, which is just over 3% of all teachers. 

“Research shows that black students having a black teacher in their classroom make significantly more academic progress, more likely to graduate high school, and more likely to enroll and succeed in college,” Green said. 

Earlier this month, Huff hosted a weekend celebration and planning session for all black teachers in Monroe County. New teachers shared their experiences, made plans to work closely together and discussed how they can help and assist the next cohort of new-to-county black teachers. 

“Having a warm welcome is a critical component to the sustainability of this initiative,” Huff said.

“All new-to-county teachers need sufficient time to finalize their housing arrangements, considering the tight housing market in the Keys,” Padget said. “For 2024, firm employment offers will be made by the district for all applicants who apply by the early decision deadline of Feb. 15, 2024. Early offers, contingent on securing housing, will be made starting in March 2024.”  

Huff added, “Monroe’s teacher salaries are the highest in Florida, and the $30,000 fellowships for new-to-county black educators make Monroe an attractive place to live, teach and enjoy the southernmost amenities of the Florida Keys.Prospective black teachers should apply early and visit for details.