Education is very important to Tobias Harris, and he continues to show that in the Philadelphia community.
Harris visited Bethune Elementary School in North Philadelphia, where he addressed black and brown educators and read to a group of students. About 43% of Bethune’s teaching population is black and brown males.
“The numbers don’t lie that show that a young black male that has an African-American teacher is 40% less likely to drop out of high school," Harris said.
Harris addressed the teachers with a surprise showing. The teachers gathered in a room filled with cameras before the 6-foot-8 forward walked in the door. He gifted them Sixers hats and tickets to an upcoming game to further continue their dialogue with a “fellas night.”
Earlier this year, Harris donated $100,000 to the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia. Bethune is one of the schools selected to be part of the Tobias Lit Labs Initiative, which provides literacy resources for students and teachers. He also created the Tobias’ Top Teachers initiative, which supports the recruitment and retention of black male teachers.
Harris jokingly said that addressing the teachers made him feel like a principal. His passion for education is something that he will embark on after his basketball career.
“This is getting me ready for life after basketball, so it’s a cool feeling,” Harris said. “Being in an area that impacts kids is definitely something I want to do when I’m done.”
Second grade wasn’t difficult, but it’s where Harris’ love for education started. He credits his second-grade teacher as someone who encouraged and motivated him.
Sitting in a chair with a long, red and white striped-hat, Harris read the book, Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, by Eric Litwin and James Dean. Harris sang and read along with the kids for about seven minutes. Superintendent William R. Hite joined Harris in reading to the students.
“I truly believe if you invest in education and you invest in the community, we’ll see more young leaders come up and more children in the community come up with an education base and be able to fulfill their dreams in whatever they want to do,” Harris said.