February 27, 2023

Two West Chester University Alumni Featured on Today Show and NBC Nightly News!

Michael Flemming ’14 and Marsalis Chism ’17 Are Making a Difference

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West Chester University alumni Michael Flemming ’14 and Marsalis Chism ‘17 were recently featured on the Today Show’s Sunday Spotlight and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt for their involvement in a critical effort to have students taught by teachers who look like them.

Flemming, Chism and two other men are core subject teachers at Philadelphia’s Martin Luther King High School. All four teachers are African American, and they are committed to teaching and mentoring at a time when few students are being taught by African American males.

“A lot of our students don’t have a male, physical, present figure in their life,” Flemming says in the segment. “And I know that in our ninth-grade academy, they have close proximity to not just one, not two, not three, but four. We put on many hats for our students. We’re psychiatrists, we’re psychologists, we’re big brothers, we’re mentors, we’re ‘uncle.’”

Flemming teaches African American history and has known the other core teachers for many years. Chism, who was a criminal justice major, teaches English. All the teachers agreed their students are becoming more engaged and motivated in the classroom, but not without work.

“It didn’t happen overnight, it’s an every day process,” Chism said.

That’s something the four teachers are willing to do, day after day.

“Many of our students forgot to dream, and coming together, we’re reminding them it’s OK to dream again,” Flemming said.

Department of Public Policy and Administration Chair Peter Loedel, who remembered Flemming quite fondly as a thoughtful political science major, saw the feature segment when it aired recently. “I watched the amazing story on national television and was so proud,” he said.

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