Call Me MISTER turns summer leadership institute into yearlong series in response to COVID-19 and nationwide protestsClemson News


Roy Jones listens to a Call Me MISTER student address the room at a previous Summer Leadership Institute.

2020 has started well for Clemson University history Call me sir® program. In February, the College of EducationThe program was recognized by the South Carolina Senate and House of Representatives as part of its 20e Birthday party. MISTERs from each participating institution gathered for a reception later in the day celebrating the legacy of the program joined by education leaders from across the state.

The next big item on the anniversary celebration agenda was the Call Me MISTER Leadership Summer Institute, which has become a key part of the program experience for students over the years. Students and site coordinators from each participating institution come together to hear guest speakers, network with each other, and learn valuable lessons about the role they will play as agents of change in education. .

The institute is also the time of the investiture ceremony and the graduating MISTERs receive their signature black blazer. It is much more than a garment. This is an important step. It’s the top of a mountain climbed before a MISTER leaves to fulfill their commitment to teach in a public school.

However, these students have yet to put on the blazer in front of their peers, and what was supposed to be a weeklong institute at the end of June has turned into a one-off event hosted through Zoom. According to Roy Jones, executive director of Call Me MISTER, 2020 had other plans.

“Like everything we had planned for our MISTERs, these blazers will arrive, maybe not on schedule,” Jones said. “COVID-19 meant we had to adapt, so while an abbreviated summer leadership institute was disappointing, it has become something we’re very excited about. “

The late June event featured Dr. Sandra McGuire, Director Emeritus of the Center for Academic Success and retired Assistant Vice Chancellor and Professor of Chemistry at Louisiana State University. McGuire is a metacognition expert who has successfully closed the achievement gap for students of color. The online event hosted through Zoom was well received by students, so it turned out to be a test for an entirely new and expanded version of the institute.

The Call Me MISTER leadership series grew out of this event and the recognized need to bring MISTERs together in an online format. MISTER executives wanted to use Zoom to cover topics ranging from hands-on teaching to leadership values, so it quickly became clear that he couldn’t – and shouldn’t – be relegated to the summer.

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Mark Joseph, Coordinator of the Call Me MISTER program, speaking at a previous Summer Leadership Institute.

According to Mark Joseph, coordinator of the Call Me MISTER program and assistant professor at Anderson University, the schedule until next summer is not yet fully filled, but that’s by design. MISTER management first wants to “take the pulse” of current students in their home region to find out what they expect from an ongoing online series.

“There are a lot of breed conversations going on all over the country right now, and we’ve always seen that context is one of the most important things to understand when discussing anything with our people. students, ”said Joseph. “It is now more important than ever that future educators understand their place in history and the responsibility they will have to assume as educators moving forward. “

Protests around race, police brutality, statues of historical figures, and building names have obviously become topics students want to explore and seek advice on. Jones and Joseph admit that if there was a time to provide GENTLEMEN with context, it would be now.

Dr. Alfred Tatum, Dean of the College of Education at the University of Illinois / Chicago, will lead the Call Me MISTER Leadership series in September. Tatum is a nationally known scholar for “reorienting the way we think about literacy” in the language development and understanding of black boys. He will address MISTERs on this topic and draw information from his most recent book, “Literacy Development of Black Boys: An Advanced Literacy Perspective”. Tatum was instrumental in establishing Call Me MISTER on its campus three years ago and continues to be a champion in promoting the mission of diversifying the teaching workforce.

Joseph said the key to bringing up these sensitive topics for students is to clearly tie them to MISTER’s mission, just as Tatum will surely do in September. He said it would be wrong to try to educate students in reaction to world events; instead, they need to understand these events and the impact they will inevitably have on classrooms. With this knowledge, MISTERs will not only be able to recognize problems but also offer solutions.

“These conversations only clarify what our role as educators should be,” said Joseph. “If we call ourselves MISTER but don’t want to educate and empower, then we are doing ourselves a disservice. We are using cohort meetings and we will use this leadership series as a space for reminder and encouragement for us as it is easy to get carried away by larger conversations, frustration and pain. Let us remember what our role is in this regard.

In a time of uncertainty over the future of higher education budgets and enrollments, this unwavering focus is why MISTER has seen only increased interest from institutions seeking to launch programs. Call Me MISTER. Jones said the pandemic has certainly disrupted site visits and consultations, but Zoom meetings and online site visits have taken place nonetheless.

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Site coordinators from each Call Me MISTER institution listen to a speaker alongside students from a Summer Leadership Institute.

Jones said a teacher shortage will always be present, if not worse, whenever the pandemic ends, and institutions will always prioritize diversifying teaching staff as student demographics continue to change. The current social crises only make clearer the need to prioritize teacher diversity for teacher training institutions, and Call Me MISTER’s 20 years of experience in terms of impact and positive results are hard to ignore.

Jones can’t help but see the news these days and imagine where so many people’s stories intersect. This coming school year, he imagines a future victim of police violence sitting in a primary classroom. On one side of this student can sit another future victim, and on the other a future perpetrator of violence. In this same class can sit a future policeman responsible for protecting them all. With MISTER in mind, Jones reflects on what they might all have in common.

“Some of these students may be missing this crucial adult role model, but they will all have teachers ahead of them,” Jones said. “The masses will not be able to sit down and talk to a therapist about what is going on in the world. It would be nice, but it’s not realistic. If you are unstable in a community, the best thing to do is be a teacher, and our program aims to continue positioning MISTERs to stand out between vulnerable students and the outside world. The way we do it prepares these teachers for the context of the world around them.


Call Me MISTER works to increase the pool of available teachers from more diverse backgrounds, especially among the poorest performing elementary schools. What started as a one-time program at Clemson University is now at 25 participating institutions in nine states. Ninety percent of the students in the Call Me MISTER program come from public schools in South Carolina; 85 percent of graduates still teach there, often in title 1 schools. If MISTERs leave the class, it is usually to become administrators, as 36 alumni have done. Of the 278 MISTER program graduates in South Carolina, 42 were named Teacher of the Year by their schools.


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