The Charger Blog

Alumnus Passionate About Education, Empowerment, and Mentorship

Throughout his three decades as an educator, Darryl Mack ’91 has served as a leader in his school district and community, as well as a mentor to his students. He is committed to creating opportunities for all students, in particular, boys and young men of color.

February 22, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Group image of Darryl Mack ’91 (center) and his students.
Darryl Mack ’91 (center) and his students.

When Darryl Mack ’91 was in high school, his shop teacher took him under his wing. Mr. Frazier became his trusted mentor and a guide, and, nearly four decades later, they still have a relationship. The first African American male teacher Mack ever had, Mr. Frazier had a “major impact” on Mack’s life and taught him the importance of mentorship.

Image of Darryl Mack ’91 recognized by Black Enterprise.
Darryl Mack ’91 was recognized by Black Enterprise.

Now a devoted educator himself, Mack is an assistant principal for Yonkers (New York) Public Schools – the same district in which he was once a student. His own education, shaped by such influential teachers as Mr. Frazier and experiences including his time as a student at the University of New Haven, played an impactful and lasting role in his life.

After high school, Mack received a scholarship offer from the University of New Haven, where he played football for four years and majored in business administration.

“When I went to the University for a visit, I fell in love with the place,” he said. “I thought, ‘this fits with my personality, and I can excel here.’ It was not too big, not too small. It suited me personally, and I could envision myself on campus, see myself fitting in and playing football. I then had a phenomenal experience there.”

‘The benefits of mentoring’

While a Charger, Mack regularly returned home and visited his former teachers. Although he had dreams of working on Wall Street and becoming a stockbroker, they began to plant the seed of a career in education. His former high school principal hired him as a full-time substitute teacher after he graduated, then encouraged him to pursue his graduate degree in education.

Now in his 31st year as an educator, Mack has taught middle and high school students, transitioning to school administration after teaching special education for 13 years. He has also coached the football and track & field teams, emphasizing the student-athlete role to each team member.

Image of Darryl Mack ’91 oversaw the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in Yonkers.
Darryl Mack ’91 oversaw the My Brother’s Keeper initiative in Yonkers.

A dedicated mentor to all students, Mack is particularly focused on mentoring and empowering young Black male students – something he views as a calling, rather than simply a job. He is committed to instilling in students – and their parents – the importance of education. In addition to making sure they finish high school and have a plan for their future, he encourages them to attend college.

“This is my mission, and I love what I do,” he said. “I want to help empower young men and help them realize their potential.”

As an educator living in the community where he grew up, Mack has opportunities to connect with current and former students outside of school. He often sees them while grocery shopping, at church, or at the barber shop. Some of them are now adults themselves, and they introduce him to their kids. He describes these interactions as among the most rewarding aspects of his job.

“I might be having a bad day, and then I bump into a former student,” he explains. “Sometimes some of the most challenging students say, ‘Mr. Mack, thank you for being stern with me. I didn’t see it then, but I understand now that you did it out of love.’ That right there snaps me out of my bad day. They have thanked me, hugged me, or asked for my phone number because they wanted to stay in touch. It reflects the benefits of mentoring, and that’s the payback for me.”

Group image of Darryl Mack ’91 (right) and his students.
Darryl Mack ’91 (right) and his students.
‘I can’t save everybody, but I’m going to try’

Mack has taken his mentorship beyond the typical school week, overseeing the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative in Yonkers. Launched by President Barack Obama in 2014, MBK endeavors to help address opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color nationwide. Mack developed the Saturday program curriculum to include workshops and classes on topics such as civics, STEM, and technology.

Under his leadership, the program continued to grow in enrollment, duration, and scope, eventually including events such as outings, a career day event with the New York Yankees, and guest speakers. It has enabled students to connect with professionals and leaders such as those from the Yonkers Police Department and the National Football League.

Gaining local and national attention, Mack and his work with MBK was featured in an HBO documentary. Black Enterprise, a Black digital media brand, included him among its BE “Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction” in 2018. Mack says his work with the Yonkers MBK program was a “phenomenal experience.”

“I take such pride in mentoring because I see the benefit of it from how I benefitted from it,” he continued. “It is my duty and responsibility to mentor all students. I can’t save everybody, but I’m going to try. I try to stress to my colleagues as well as young teachers that it’s their responsibility to mentor our kids, to be an example.”

Group image of Darryl Mack ’91 speaking to a group of students.
Darryl Mack ’91 speaks to a group of students.
‘I want him to see what I experienced at the University’

Following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, Yonkers mayor Mike Spano asked Mack to serve on a police reform committee, enabling him to help improve police policies and procedures as well as community relations. He was later featured in a commercial with the mayor, discussing the important work of the committee.

Also a member of the University’s Alumni Board of Directors, Mack wants to help create meaningful opportunities for current students. He hopes to collaborate with the University's College of Arts & Sciences to foster mentorship and retention.

Image of Darryl Mack ’91 addressing MBK students.
Darryl Mack ’91 addresses MBK students.

“The University did so much for me that I can’t even put it into words,” he said. “It’s more than playing football for four years and graduating – it’s when I evolved as a young man. The climate, the environment, and the faculty made me feel like I could succeed. Those were pivotal years for me, and they were great years. I had a great experience. So, I feel it is my responsibility and my duty to give back to the University what I was able to get out of it.”

A proud lifelong Charger, Mack looks forward to returning to the University to attend events such as Homecoming and games. He often brings with him a young student to whom he also serves as a mentor: his 12-year-old son, Darryl Jr. He hopes to share with him his passion for education and how it helped shape him throughout his life.

“I want him to see what I experienced at the University,” he explains. “He’s met my football coaches, guys I’ve played with. I want to convey to him the great experience the University has been for me. I love the unity that exists and the lifelong friendships I’ve established. That’s very dear to my heart and something for which I’m very thankful and appreciative.”