Alumnus passionate about education, empowerment and mentorship

Throughout his three decades as an educator, Darryl Mack ’91 has been 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, especially boys and young men of color.

February 22, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

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 her trusted mentor and 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 has been recognized by Black Enterprise.

Now a dedicated educator himself, Mack is vice-principal of Yonkers, New York, public schools — the same district in which he was once a student. His own upbringing, shaped by such influential teachers as Mr. Frazier, and his 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 college for a visit, I fell in love with the place,” he said. “I thought, ‘This fits my personality, and I can excel here.’ He was neither too big nor too small. It suited me personally and I could imagine myself on campus, seeing myself fitting in and playing football. I then had a phenomenal experience there.

“The Benefits of Mentoring”

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

Now in his 31st year as an educator, Mack has taught middle and high school students, transitioning into school administration after teaching special education for 13 years. He also coached the football and track teams, emphasizing the student-athlete role for 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 has a particular focus on mentoring and empowering young black male students – something he sees as a calling rather than just 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.

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

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

“Maybe I’m having a bad day and then I run into a former student,” he explains. “Sometimes some of the more difficult students say, ‘Mr. Mack, thank you for being tough on me. I didn’t see it then, but I understand now that you did it out of love. Gets me out of my bad day. They 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 payoff for me.

Group image of Darryl Mack '91 (right) and his students.
Darryl Mack ’91 (right) and his students.
“I can’t save everyone, but I will 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 strives to help close the opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color nationwide. Mack has expanded 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 terms of enrollment, length, and scope, eventually including events such as outings, a career day with the New York Yankees, and guest speakers. It allowed students to connect with professionals and leaders such as those in the Yonkers Police Department and the National Football League.

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

“I’m so proud of the mentorship because I see the benefits of it the way I’ve enjoyed it,” he continued. “It is my duty and my responsibility to supervise all students. I can’t save everyone, but I’ll try. I try to emphasize to my colleagues as well as to young teachers that it is their responsibility to supervise our children, 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 went through in college”

Following the 2020 murder of George Floyd, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano asked Mack to serve on a police reform committee, allowing 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, Mack wants to help create meaningful opportunities for current students. He hopes to work with the University’s College of Arts and Sciences to foster mentorship and retention.

Image of Darryl Mack '91 speaking to MBK students.
Darryl Mack ’91 is for MBK students.

“University has done 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 getting a degree – it’s when I grew as a young man. The climate, the environment and the faculty made me feel like I could succeed. These were pivotal years for me, and they were great years. I had a good experience. So, I think it is my responsibility and my duty to give back to the University what I I was able to take it out.

A lifelong Proud 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 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 has shaped it throughout his life.

“I want him to see what I went through in college,” he explains. “He met my football coaches, guys I played with. I want to pass on to him the great experience that the University has been for me. I love the unity that exists and the lasting friendships that I have established. It is very dear to my heart and something I am very thankful and thankful for.

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