Founded at Clemson in 2000 by Jeff Davis, the team captain of Clemson’s 1981 national championship football team, Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) was created to “increase the pool of available teachers from diverse cultures and backgrounds to serve economically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities”.
JSU partnered with Clemson and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to establish the first Call Me MISTER program in the Deep South, introducing the first cohort of five students at JSU in Fall 2012, followed by second and third cohorts of five in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014. Less than two percent of public school teachers in the U.S. are African-American men and approximately two percent of Mississippi’s public elementary school teachers are African-American men. As the only Call Me MISTER program in the state. JSU is leading the way in recruiting provide a pipeline of African-American male teachers, mentors, and role models to Mississippi’s public schools and communities.
To ensure that the effort continues, the JSU, Clemson University’s Call Me MISTER program received $1.3 million from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to collaborate with the College of Education and Human Development to increase the number of African-American male teachers in Mississippi K-8 classrooms. Nearly 100 students are enrolled in the program in six additional states: Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Mississippi and Georgia.
Additionally, the College of Education and Human Development and JSU's Mississippi Learning Institute are pleased to announce the formation of a partnership between the JSU Call Me MISTER program, and Clemson University’s Magnolia Clemson Club. Dubbed “Tigers United” in recognition of the mascot shared by both universities, the partnership is designed to provide professional and leadership development opportunities for the MISTERs through contact with Clemson alumni living and working in the Jackson metropolitan area.
The concept of the Tigers United partnership was developed by Clemson alumnus and Magnolia Clemson Club Secretary Dr. Otis Pickett, who became aware of the Call Me MISTER program while working across the hall from Mr. Davis while attending Clemson. Dr. Pickett and other Clemson alumni had a goal of adding a community engagement component to the activities of the Magnolia Clemson Club, and he felt that supporting the JSU Call Me MISTER program was an ideal fit. With the support of Magnolia Clemson Club President Tripp Segars, Dr. Pickett approached JSU in July 2014 to discuss the partnership, and Tigers United was formally established in August 2014.
In order to support Tigers United, the Magnolia Clemson Club applied for and received a grant from the Clemson Alumni Association to launch the partnership. These funds will be used to support professional development opportunities for the MISTERs, as well as teacher certification training workshops and a community service project. On October 18, a social gathering was held at the home of Clemson alums Mike and Wylyn Doherty to celebrate the formation of the Tigers United partnership, to discuss plans for the coming year, and to provide an opportunity for the MISTERs and members of the Magnolia Clemson Club to connect and network in an informal setting. Rapport was quickly established between both groups, setting the stage for a powerful partnership.
Although only entering its third year at JSU, the Call Me MISTER program is already having measurable impact. To date, more than 1,550 K-12 and college students have been assisted through Call Me MISTER’s service efforts, with participants contributing more than 1,000 hours to organizations such as Jackson Public Schools, United Way of the Capital Area, Boys and Girls Club, JSU Kid’s Kollege, and the JSU Lottie Thornton Early Childcare Center. In 2013, the JSU Call Me MISTER program was selected to pilot the Call Me MISTER Dropout Prevention Model, developed by the National Drop Out Prevention Center at Clemson with the aid of a former Call Me MISTER graduate.
Benefits to students enrolled in Call Me MISTER include tuition assistance, professional development opportunities, and academic and social mentoring provided by a program coordinator and a faculty academic coach. Call Me MISTER participants major in Elementary or Early Childhood Education, and are required to maintain consistent, above-average academic engagement, including enrolling for at least 16 credit hours per term, maintaining a 2.75 GPA, following all attendance policies, developing an academic support plan, satisfying all requirements for the JSU Teacher Education program, and taking the PRAXIS exam by the end of their freshman year. Additionally, members agree to reside on campus and to refrain from outside employment that may limit their ability to meet academic and program requirements, and commit to teaching for one year in Mississippi for each year that they receive financial assistance. MISTERs are expected to serve as ambassadors to other students and the community-at-large by maintaining a high standard of self-conduct and acting as mentors and positive role models at all times.
To listen to the Call Me Mister NPR Interview: "Men in America" series on All Things Considered, Monday, June 30, 2014, click here.
For media updates about Call Me MISTER featured by the JSU Newroom click here.
For media updates about Call Me MISTER featured on Facebook click here.
For interest in becoming a MISTER, click on the links below.