HOUSTON - A Houston teacher is not only impacting his students but as we tell you in this Positively Houston, he’s touching the lives of kids across the Bayou City.
Frost Elementary 5th Grade Math Teacher Joshua Martin may teach 5th grade but he’s changing the lives of several seniors after reaching into his own pocket to give them scholarships for college and he held a black-tie event to give three deserving Houston kiddoes their cash.
"The scholarship money is going to help my family. It’s definitely going to take a lot of financial pressure off of being able to attend college because that’s the main thing me and my mom were stressing about," says scholarship recipient Maties Honeycutt.
Mr. Martin decided to give his own money for scholarships for Houston boys by creating a program called Pipeline to Success because he wanted to turn a negative into something positive. "The school to prison pipeline where statistics say a certain percentage of African American males will end up in prison."
Education is important to Martin who has a Masters' degree and this won’t be his first time turning something horrible into good. When he was in sixth grade a teacher actually told him "You’ll never be anything in life but flipping hamburgers, working at McDonald’s and so for something (wiping eyes)," and Martin stops mid-sentence to wipe away tears. All these years later it’s still tough to talk about it but he has vowed to make a different lasting impression on students.
"I want to be a teacher like Mr. Martin," explains Alief Hastings High School graduate Maties Honeycutt who actually became inspired to teach when he had his first black male teacher in 7th grade.
"I’m majoring in English because specifically, I want to be an English teacher. That’s something I’m passionate about. I like literature. I like reading," he explains.
Now he’s a step closer to achieving his dream, headed to college thanks in part to a teacher he had never met before who came out of his own pocket to give $2,000 in scholarship money to three young men.
"I just prayed about it and God gave me the answers that I needed and I did it. I didn’t question well how am I going to get this bill paid or what am I going to do? Thankfully with the support of my family and friends we were actually able to do even more than that," Mr. Martin explains.
So, Devin and Patrick ultimately received $1,000 each, and Maties was given $1500, a laptop, and a printer and all three received care packages.
"Ultimately it’s to change the stereotype. It’s to change just the image that society has of young black males. I’m a first-generation college graduate. My parents and my siblings went to school but they didn’t complete. There were times when I was in college it was like ok what am I going to do? How am I going to get this class paid for? How am I going to get these books paid for? I don’t want these kids to have to go through that," says Mr. Martin.
The three scholarship recipients were selected from dozens of students who submitted essays answering the question "What is it like being a black man in American to you?"
Maties was the grand prize winner, acknowledging struggles:
"I think being a black man in America encompasses a lot of things...things we already know that engulfs a black man in today’s society are borderline the same things that occurred in the 1960’s and 1970’s, racism, discrimination, having to tone down our character in order to coexist, having to prove our worth two times. We carry the trauma of our enslaved ancestors on our skin and in ourselves," he said. b
Maties also highlighted the positives of being a black man, from great success in athletics, music, and academics to growing up with a strong support system in a loving home created for him by his mom.
"I have a good representation of what I want in the future. I have a good representation of how I could be treated in a loving and nurturing environment. I was able to be raised in a safe space".
Because Mr. Martin doesn’t want money to stand in the way of these kids achieving greatness he plans to hold fundraisers to help with scholarships next year.
"And even if fundraising doesn’t help I’m good at saving money and I’m fine with doing so because it touches my heart to know that I’m able to help others and lead them in the right direction," he said.
The 5th-grade math teacher says so many people seem to "see" the kids who are one extreme or another, those who are taking the wrong path or those at the top of their class, and kiddoes in the middle become invisible. So he offered that as an encouragement to his scholarship recipients.
"That’s one bit of inspiration that really stuck with me and that I really appreciate and it plays in my mind that somebody sees me, somebody sees us and that’s something I really appreciate," says Maties.
Martin is also encouraging kids to never give up.
"One day when you look back you’ll be like wow I really did this, which is a moment I’m having now," he said.
If you know someone making a positive difference please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to share their story.