by Michael Staton - Eugene T. Moore School of Education

The United States Department of Education has invited representatives of Call Me MISTER to attend the National Summit on Teacher Diversity on May 6 in Washington, D.C. The summit invites participants from programs across the nation to expand and deepen the understanding of the issue of diversity in the teaching profession.

Roy Jones, executive director of Call Me MISTER at Clemson University, will attend the summit along with five participants in the program from three of the program’s participating colleges. Jones said he and the other MISTERs are honored to play a central role in the summit.

“The Department of Education has recognized the value of our work by including the demonstrated success of the Call Me MISTER model,” Jones said. “Our program has sought to address the central goal of the summit in South Carolina and beyond for the past 16 years.”

The goal of the summit is to support the development of actionable commitments to attracting, preparing, retaining and supporting educators of color, as well as spark a national dialogue. Jones said the Call Me MISTER program is therefore a natural fit at the summit and he believes the MISTERs involved as panelists will be living proof that programs can have a positive effect on diversity in education.

The mission of Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) is to increase the pool of available teachers from broader, more diverse backgrounds, particularly among the lowest-performing elementary schools. Nearly 30 colleges in eight states participate in the Call Me MISTER program.

Recently, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded a $1.3 million initiative between Clemson University and Jackson State University to develop a pipeline of African-American male teachers in Mississippi by using the Call Me MISTER program. According to Clemson University Eugene T. Moore School of Education Dean George Petersen, expansion of this sort for the program is not just encouraged by the school of education, but is needed to drive long-term change.

“Our teacher population should mirror that of our students, which is why diversity among teachers is a complex but important issue that demands a national conversation,” Petersen said. “It is fitting that a program as successful as Call Me MISTER be a part of that conversation.”

Jones echoes Petersen’s sentiments regarding expansion on a national level. He believes Call Me MISTER’s appearance at the summit will prove that the model is deserving of support to “scale up” to include additional partners nationwide.

“The department of education invited us because of our continuous effort to address a lack of diversity in our teaching force,” Jones said. “The experiences of our MISTERs will provide a powerful perspective that will significantly influence the national conversation on that shortage of diversity.”

Participating MISTERs include Damon Qualls and Anthony Broughton, graduates of Benedict College; Marquice Clark, graduate of Morris College; and Mansa Joseph, a graduate of Clemson University. Michael Miller Jr., current president of the Clemson Call Me MISTER cohort, will also attend the summit.