Outlook Magazine - Fall 2021
Connecting with his students
“We look out for each other,” he said. “This meant a lot to them, and they got it. They carried it over and took the lesson home to share with their families.” At the start of the 2020-21 school year, Ragland was transferred to Marvin Pratt Elementary as a special education resource teacher, creating individualized education and behavior plans for 14 students in first to third grade. With boys and girls in his class, he changed his brotherhood standard to a new language of family. “I like being able to connect with them. I can understand their lingo, and that builds on our relationship,” he said. “I have a son. So, I come to school, and it’s like clockwork.” In May, Ragland earned his master’s in special education from Cardinal Stritch University. He plans on earning his doctorate and founding an all-boys school, where he’ll serve as principal. “I want to create an environment where boys from all backgrounds can get a bigger picture. That’s my blueprint – something that I’ll be remembered for.” Ragland thinks UW-Stout helped prepare him for his role in education. “Stout helped me become a man. It was my first time away from home. Everyone really taught me to be who I am today.” “... showed them tough love and got them ready for the real world ”
Jarvis Ragland knew at an early age that helping people was his calling. After graduating from UW-Stout in health, wellness and fitness in 2015, having played forward for Blue Devils men’s basketball for four years, he managed a group home, caring for patients ranging from 18 to 100 years old. But when two of his patients died, Ragland became depressed. His mother suggested a career change, and he applied as a paraprofessional at Lloyd Barbee Montessori School in Milwaukee. Ragland quickly formed a bond with the students. One year later, in fall 2019, he was given his own special education classroom with seven students, all boys. Ragland lives by a quote – In a minute, you can destroy what it took years to build. “Even small things can destroy who you are. There are always consequences,” he said. “I took my students under my wing, showed them tough love and got them ready for the real world.” As Black males make up only 2% of teachers nationwide, Ragland offered his students a much- needed perspective. Their bond grew as he called on them to treat each other as brothers.
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