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Paying it forward: supporting under­represented students in STEM

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Dixon found a job as an assistant pastor at Brooks School in North Andover, Massachusetts, and began teaching there. “I’ve always considered my life to be a journey of faith,” he said. In fact, he went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree at Gordon Cornwell Theological Seminary, where he has served as a pastor and teacher for the past 20 years. “At Brooks, I learned that teaching is my calling,” he said. “As a teacher, I can mentor and support students, and pay for what I receive from teachers.” Dixon also earned a doctorate in education from Boston College in 2003.

After leaving Brooks, Dixon taught physics and math in public schools in Newton and Boston. His goal is to make STEM subjects more appealing to all students, especially black and brown students.

In 2005, Dixon had the opportunity to run Parkside Christian College in Dorchester, where he had taught. He and Crystal held leadership positions in the school, expanding the school from K-8 to pre-K to 12th grade. They renamed the school Crossfactor Academy; Dixon served as STEM teacher and principal, and Crystal served as administrator. They also recruited their six sons. “Our goal is to create a space where students of color are encouraged and expected to succeed in STEM programs because each grade level has access to appropriate scaffolding and rigor,” he said. “In every test score, [Crossfactor students] Exceeded outside expectations of them. ”

Crossfactor Academy closed in 2018, mainly for financial reasons. “It was a great game,” Dixon said. “I know we’ve changed the lives of these kids and their families. That’s the hardest part about shutting down students and their families.”

Dixon remains committed to supporting education through a variety of efforts in and out of the classroom, including the creation of the Black Alumni of MIT (BAMIT) STEM Council, which leads BAMIT’s efforts to expand K-12 STEM education for students of color. He also currently teaches in Boston Public Schools at Dearborn STEM Academy. “We celebrate Pi Day in our classrooms,” he said. “I am committed to being that teacher who advises and encourages children of color to pursue careers in science, math and engineering. That will never change. My teachers did the same for me.”



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