A New Orleans summer teaching fellowship is wooing young black teachers — but is it enough?

EW ORLEANS — Yawns and sleepy stretches punctuated the silence as Brandon Mercadel’s third-graders rooted around their desks for “The Buried Bones Mystery,” the subject of today’s lesson about text evidence.

“You guys must have had an amazing Father’s Day weekend,” said Mercadel, smiling. “You are so tired!”

One student laid his head on his desk and slipped off his high-top sneakers, prompting another student to silently mouth “pew!” and clamp his fingers to his nose.

Mercadel smoothly switched tracks and lead the group of seven children in a rousing set of full-body stretches and jumping jacks.

“Okay, let’s try this again,” he resumed, his students back in their seats, books in hand. “Therese, it’s your turn to read. Remember: loud and proud.”

Mercadel is 22 and will be a senior at Xavier University of Louisiana this fall. This is his second summer teaching a six-week intensive camp called Summer Experience, a collaboration between Relay Graduate School of Education and New Orleans-based charter network, FirstLine Schools. Mercadel earns $2,250 for his work as a summer teaching fellow. In addition to providing a free, semi-academic camp for local children who attend FirstLine schools, the goal of the program, say its organizers, is to hook college students like Mercadel into a long and stable career in teaching.

Jennifer Krout