2013-05-22 / LifeStyles

Limestone College brings ‘Call Me MISTER’ program to Cherokee County

Goal is to attract more African American males to the classroom as teachers


College is bringing the highly successful Call Me MISTER program to its Gaffney campus. Courses for the popular teacher/mentor program will begin with the start of the 2013-2014 academic year in August.

Call Me MISTER, which is an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models, was launched in 2000 by Clemson University. The program recruits high school and college male students, many of whom are African Americans, to train as early childhood and elementary school teachers. The program’s goal is to counteract a critical shortage of African American male teachers, particularly among the state’s lowest performing schools.

Since its inception, Call Me MISTER has grown rapidly throughout South Carolina and beyond, including programs in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The program, which has received private and public funding in support of its mission, frequently receives national recognition in various mainstream media outlets including ABC World News, USA Today, NewsWeek, and National Public Radio.

Interested candidates should apply to Limestone College and then to the Call Me MISTER program. For more information, contact Dr. Shelly Meyers, Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at Limestone and Director of the College’s Teacher Education Program, at (864) 488- 8207 or smeyers@limestone.edu.

“What impresses me most about the MISTERS is that they do not leave education,” said Dr. Meyers. “Since the program’s inception in 2000, no MISTER has left the education field; the program has a 100 percent retention rate.”

According to Meyers, there is significant research indicating that children are more likely to emulate a successful person if they look like that person. “I would describe MISTER participants as perfect gentlemen,” she said. “They are knowledgeable about education as a whole and have a very positive attitude about teaching children…especially those from impoverished environments and neighborhood. The MISTERS see those children in particular as merely needing an opportunity and they speak of them that way.”

Hayward Jean is a graduate of the MISTER program and now teaches at Marshall Elementary School in Belton. “Call Me MISTER is all about servant leadership, an idea or way of living that says ‘my life is not about me.’ It’s about those who have been blessed to lead people to their Godgiven destiny but are also humble enough to reach down to where others may be and help bring them to where they need to be,” he said.

At Limestone, all MISTERs will be housed together to form a living and learning community. Also, there are a host of incentives are on offer for potential MISTERS to enroll in the program, including: u An $8,000 annual scholarship u A PRAXIS test-taking and preparation seminar u Participation in the Call Me MISTER Leadership Academy and Orientation for new students u Assistance with job placement

A readiness visit by MISTER representatives from Clemson was held in Cherokee County in March and received tremendous support from Cherokee County School District officials, representatives of the Know(2) initiative which encourages student achievement as a necessary and healthy goal, the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, and Mayor Henry Jolly.

The MISTER program at Limestone is the second major education initiative announced by the college since the March announcement of the McMillan Scholarship program. That program is designed specifically for women majoring in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Professional Communication, Music, Art, Theater, English, History or those students who have attended the annual Women in Technology and Science (WITS) conference.

“We are changing the culture of our teacher education program next year with McMillan Scholars and MISTERS. I’m very excited about the excitement and level of professionalism these groups of future teachers will bring to our already outstanding programs,” said Dr. Meyers.

The Teacher Education Program at Limestone College is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), ncate.org. This accreditation covers early childhood education, elementary education, English education, math education, physical education, and music education at the Gaffney campus. However, the accreditation does not include individual education courses that the institution offers to P-12 educators for professional development, relicensure, or other purposes.

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