As schools continue to grow culturally and linguistically diverse, it is imperative that educator preparation programs take meaningful steps aimed at growing a more diverse population of teachers. Currently, males of color account for approximately 2% of the teacher workforce. While school systems throughout the country have recognized the importance of male teachers of color, they struggle to recruit and retain them. That said, considerable efforts have been directed towards ameliorating this issue at the educator preparation level. Here in the Bagwell College of Education, we remain committed to cultivating a broader, more diverse field of teachers by enhancing our recruitment efforts. To that end, we have launched the Call Me MISTER® (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) program.
Originally founded at Clemson University in 2000, Call Me MISTER® is an educator mentorship and development program that aims to place more males of color into elementary and middle schools. Call Me MISTER® is a highly acclaimed program that recognizes the value and the need for a highly qualified and diverse teacher workforce. This dynamic program has proven to be effective as Clemson reports 98% of the students that have completed the Call Me MISTER® program remain in the field of education.
The mission of the Call Me MISTER® National Initiative 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. Selected student participants known as MISTERs are required to attend a four-year institution to complete their program of study in teacher education and baccalaureate degree. In some cases, the program may allow enrollment in a Master of Teaching degree program leading to initial certification. It is expected that a MISTER who completes his program of study and becomes certified to teach will assume a teaching position and teach one year for each year they received financial support from the Call Me MISTER® program. Moreover, in addition to the formal teacher education curriculum, MISTERs are required to actively participate in the program’s Servant Leadership model or co-curriculum, which entails individual, group development and community outreach activities.
I am a dedicated Servant Leader perpetuating a sorely needed concept— servant leaders as role models in elementary schools. I am devoted to planting seeds of dignity and respect in children and inspiring them to cultivate those seeds producing a crop of unprecedented success. I will teach reading, writing and arithmetic and progress to self-esteem, imagination and determination. Because of my immeasurable promise, not only have I earned your respect, I demand it! A title is only important if ones' 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!