Marvin Pierre: From Banking to Teaching

by Sarah Brock on Jul 22, 2015

Marvin Pierre had been living the corporate life for three years at Goldman Sachs when he found his life’s calling in teaching thanks to a classroom visit.

“A good friend of mine was a teacher. She suggested I come in and talk to her boys, specifically those who were challenging,” Marvin says. “While I was walking around the classroom I recognized it was a 5th grade class, and they were reading on a 2nd grade level. This was really concerning to me. There was never going to be a man of color who came from where they did at Goldman Sachs unless I did something.”

He started on his journey then to teach, specifically working with young men to provide them with a role model. Marvin joined the staff of KIPP Polaris Academy for Boys as an Assistant Principal in 2013, a school he says is a very personal mission for him.

“I have a huge passion for young men of color because of my upbringing. I didn’t have too many male role models in my life,” Marvin says. “I had one though and he was a surrogate father. One thing he told me and reminded me was that as I climbed the ladder of success to reach back and help another.  I understand the investment I make now can change or save a life of one of the boys I work with. It’s special to me because of the impact a male played in my life, and I have the opportunity to make that same impact.”

Marvin and the Polaris staff work tirelessly to provide young men with opportunities that show a glimpse of the possibilities they can achieve through hard work and education. They have taken the boys on tours of universities, financial and engineering firms, and recently a group visited City Hall and met Mayor Annise Parker. 

“My vision for them is to really give them the tools they need academically and socially for them to be successful on their own,” Marvin says. “I’m big on exposing our boys to things I believe other privileged students get. I believe our boys deserve the same things. I spend a lot of my time navigating the networks in the city of Houston to give the boys at Polaris the opportunity to be whatever they want to be in life.”

Marvin knows the work he does is difficult and teaching all boys can be a challenge, but he says it’s a challenge that is so critical to the larger society and the country.

“I think this is appealing because one of the things that fires up myself and the staff is that we work with one of the most challenging groups in the country – African-American and Latino boys,” Marvin says. “We know our country isn’t succeeding at getting this group to be successful. We have the opportunity every day to prove the system is wrong. They can be successful. We’re working to rewrite history for young men of color in this country. We have the opportunity to continue to be a story for this country in terms of what is possible when you have the right things in place.”