Call Me MISTER closing double shortages in Carolina classrooms
The 2022-23 school year began with a 39% increase in vacant positions, coupled by a lack of diversity in teacher staff. A Clemson University program is working hard to close both gaps. Call Me MISTER is increasing the pool of Black male teachers in area classrooms.
GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - There’s a double shortage existing in South Carolina classrooms. The 2022-23 school year began with a 39% increase in vacant positions, coupled by a lack of diversity in teacher staff. One Clemson University program is working hard to close both gaps. Call Me MISTER is increasing the pool of Black male teachers in area classrooms.
Evan Livingston has just finished a full day of teaching, and instead of heading home, he’s back to Clemson University’s campus.
“Right now I’m at the point where I have a lot of different options, so I’m not really sure what’s to come,” he said. “You can fight with your mind and not with your fist.”
And helping navigate life as a teacher is Dr. Roy Jones. But there’s little time for chit chat, there’s student testing and personal objectives.
This is life for a Call Me MISTER graduate, a program started by Clemson University to increase the pool of diverse teachers who look like Evan.
“We’re trying to address the dismal shortage of black male teachers teaching and especially in elementary school,” said Dr. Roy I. Jones, Clemson University College of Education provost distinguished professor.
In South Carolina, only about 3% of teachers in all grade levels are Black males.
“It’s deplorable,” Dr. Jones said.
But he also stresses it’s cultural.
“Black males stereotypically go into athletics, entertainment, and maybe other more desirable (and higher paying) areas of business, law, medicine,” Dr. Jones said.
In fact, when Evan was a high school senior he was originally headed to Clemson to be an engineer.
“Growing up you want to copy what you see and what everyone else values,” Livingston said.
And that’s where Call Me MISTER steps in to intentionally identify and attract Black males who are provided the pathway to teach.
“We have in fact, more than doubled that number, with fully certified teachers,” Dr. Jones said.
So, what’s the formula to adding more black male representation to South Carolina classrooms? Dr. Jones says first there’s early intervention in high school. Then once a teacher candidate gets to college they live together, learn together, participate in cohort group counseling and advising, and field experience. There’s also mentorship that lasts long after they graduate.
“Each experience is a learning experience. It helps develop the dispositions, the attitudes, the practice,” Dr. Jones said.
Practice that evolved into Call Me MISTER cohorts at other colleges and universities.
“The MISTER’s at the college of Charleston, the MISTER’s that I’ve met from Louisiana,” he said.
MISTER’s contributing to the teacher profession.
“Once a MISTER, always a MISTER,” Dr. Jones said.
Call Me MISTER is actively accepting applications. Teacher candidate’s will receive tuition assistance, a 50% housing discount and paid summer internships. To learn more visit https://www.clemson.edu/education/programs/programs/call-me-mister.html
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