Call Me Mister program gets under way
Call Me Mister (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) is a teacher leadership program founded at Clemson University 10 years ago aimed at training and placing more teachers from diverse cultures and backgrounds into schools to serve as role models for under-served children. In return, the scholarship recipients must commit to teaching in South Carolina schools for four years after graduation.
The Call Me Misters are: Justin Bradley of Cross, Brantay Cohens of Georgetown, Donald Durham of Rock Hill, Frankie Hall of Columbia and D'Shaune Hemingway of Myrtle Beach.
"Education is the solution for so many of society's major problems," said Jerome Christia, Ph.D., associate professor of marketing and academic coach and adviser for the five students. "The Mister program addresses the socio-economic disparity that African-American males face, and provides them with positive role models to motivate and excite them about education."
Christia is responsible for reviewing applications, interviewing applicants, processing campus paperwork, disbursing stipends and attending and participating in regular administrative meetings of the project. In addition, he maintains communications across campus, among the collaborating campuses and with Clemson; coordinates recruitment efforts; maintains data generated by the project; actively participates in evaluation and monitoring; and oversees the evaluation process.
The mission of Call Me Mister is to increase the pool of available teachers from a broader more diverse background, particularly among the state's lowest performing elementary schools. Student participants are largely selected from among under-served, socio-economically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities.
The students are selected based on high school grades, school and community involvement and an essay on "Why I Want to Teach" that addresses their motivation for entering the profession and the contributions the student hopes to make as a teacher.
"We have already had inquiries for next year and are involving our Misters into various programs across the campus," said Dianne Mark, dean of the Spadoni College of Education. "I believe they will represent the college and the University in a very positive light."
Thirteen other colleges and universities in South Carolina have Call Me Mister programs patterned after Clemson's, and five other states have implemented the program as well.
Call Me Mister comes from a student vision statement that explains the need for earned respect: "A title is only important if one's character and integrity dictate its use. When you address me, please verbalize my destiny... please do not call me by my first name... call me in reference to my great vision... call me MISTER!"