For more than 100 years, teaching has been passed down through the family of Hillary-Rhys Richard.
Growing up in Katy, Texas, Rhys, as she is known to her friends, listened to her mother, Astrya Richard, tell stories of her ancestors – four generations of educators who saw teaching as a calling, and learning as a tool for change.
By the end of high school, Rhys had never had a black male teacher, and that absence, along with his family’s deep connection to education, helped guide him to follow in his footsteps.
This week, 18-year-old Rhys will complete her first year at a distance as part of the inaugural class of the African American Male Teacher Initiative at Huston-Tillotson University. The first program of its kind was created in collaboration with Apple as part of the company’s ongoing and deep commitment to supporting Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). Apple’s multi-year partnership with Huston-Tillotson complements other commitments the company has established through its racial equity and justice initiative, working closely with the HBCU community to develop curricula and provide new learning opportunities and workforce.
At Huston-Tillotson, Apple provides scholarships for undergraduate students, called Pre-Ed Scholars, as well as hardware, software, and professional development courses for students and teachers.
“Every student should have the opportunity to be taught by someone who represents them,” Rhys wrote in her candidacy letter to Huston-Tillotson. “To build strong kids, we need strong male teachers to chart a path to be the role model for students. The stick must be passed for us to continue to push forward. I’m ready to run my race stage.” .