GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Countless studies done in the past year have revealed a shortage of black, male teachers; not to mention a shortage of black males in administrative roles.
However, Harrison Central High School's principal is just that - a black, male in education who happens to know just how important his role is to the young people he interacts with every day.
Twenty years ago, Averie Bush was a student at Harrison Central High School. Now, he's there each day in a much different role.
"Well, I spend much more time in the principal's office now then I did when I was a student," said Bush. "But it was weird when I took the job here, and walking around with the same places I did as a student, and actually interacting with employees now that were my teachers."
Growing up, Bush never imagined he would be an educator. However, his career path became clear during his years as an undergrad student at The University of Southern Mississippi.
"Sharing knowledge with others. That's been something that I didn't realize early on. But as I matured, I realized that it's something I enjoyed and was really good at," the principal added.
According to the U.S. Department of Education's website, less than two percent of America's teachers are African American males. Bush says he didn't realize he was a rarity until he took his first job where he was the only black, male teacher in the entire district.
Bush noted, "At that point, the gravity of what I represented to students in general - regardless of race - it resonated with me. And it actually helped me grow up more, or just be more aware."
Since that wake up call, Bush says he understands how important his role is with the students he has the privilege of working with each day.
"There's so many negative stereotypes of African American maleness, so it's important for our students - both African American and non-African American - to see positive male role models; but positive African American role models specifically," Bush said.
Bush's goal is to reach students goes far beyond the African American community.
"I look up to Mr. Bush because he is everything I want to be. He's a young black individual that dedicates himself to knowledge," said Demeterius Burnside.