Organizations: Student African American Brotherhood
Paul Allen has witnessed his share of miracles as an educator, but some moments stand out more than others.
“I’ve had kids who were in gangs and on probation learn to tuck in their shirts and answer me with ‘yes, sir,’” he says, shaking his head. “That tells me that they’ve learned self-respect.”
Allen credits this transformation to the Student African American Brotherhood, or SAAB, a national nonprofit with more than 200 chapters in 39 states. In 2012, Allen, a Bibb County Teacher of the Year, established a chapter at Southwest High School in Macon, and he is in the process of launching one in Central High School.
“The idea is that we start with kids who are in middle school and track them all the way through to graduation, giving them enrichment and role models for access to college,” Allen says. “Our aim is to increase the number of African-American and Latino men graduating from college by creating a positive peer community based on a spirit of caring. We encourage our students to be polite, professionally dressed and invested in their future.”
As members of SAAB, the students volunteer at least once a week – there are fierce checkers games at convalescent homes – and they learn about voter registration, personal finance, activism for nonviolence and other skills to help them better their communities.
“This is an organization that welcomes everybody, from the captain of the football team to the kid in band,” Allen says. “We make goal-setting cool.”
The results speak for themselves. “So far, 90 percent of my SAAB kids have advanced to college, and many were the first generation in their family to do so.”