Teacher development program on Georgia Southern’s Armstrong Campus offers mentorships for male students from diverse backgrounds
Georgia Southern University is enhancing its commitment to diversifying the teacher workforce with the addition of the Call Me MISTER® program on the Armstrong Campus in Savannah.
Call Me MISTER®, an acronym that stands for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models, is a program that originated at Clemson University to increase the pool of available teachers from a broader and more diverse background, particularly focusing on the recruitment and mentoring of Black males in teacher education programs.
According to national figures, only 2% of all teachers in the U.S. are Black males.
Georgia Southern is now one of only three higher education institutions in Georgia, and the only in Southeast Georgia, that offers the mentorship program. Calvin Walton, Ph.D., lecturer in the College of Education (COE), has been named the program director.
“Our goal is to have a major impact on Savannah-Chatham County Schools,” said Walton. “We have to do a better job in the area, the state and the nation to recruit and properly develop African American males to become teachers. Black students with Black teachers perform better. Research shows that. So we need to do what we can to allow diverse students to see themselves reflected in their teachers and have the opportunity to perform at the highest levels.”
Participants in the program will be accepted in cohorts each fall and receive financial support from the College. Each MISTER participant will have a mentor within the University or Savannah-area community to provide additional support outside of their academic performances.
“The program is co-curricular,” explained Walton. “While these young men will be studying to become elementary school educators, they will also receive additional experiences to support them for college success as well as their future careers as African American males teaching in Chatham County. It is our goal that the MISTERS will remain in Savannah to teach, and therefore we want to provide them with all the tools and understanding necessary to perform their very best in the classrooms in Chatham County.”
Georgia Southern has also uniquely partnered with the Georgia Army National Guard in efforts to support the program through a joint opportunity for students to participate in Call Me MISTER® and enlist in the National Guard. Sergeant First Class Todd Friedel of the Georgia Army National Guard and University’s Director of Military and Veterans Services Col. George Fredrick played an integral role in assisting to bring the program to Georgia Southern.
“Having a partnership with the College of Education makes our recruiters more aware of what a full-time career in education for the state of Georgia and a part-time state of Georgia National Guard career can look like,” explained Sgt. 1st Class Todd Friedel of the Georgia Army National Guard. “As recruiters, we touch the lives of many Black males in the state, and this allows us to share with them the opportunity to serve your community both as a soldier and educator.”
COE Associate Dean for Administration and Faculty Affairs Tracy Linderholm, Ph.D., spearheaded the initiative to bring Call Me MISTER® to Georgia Southern after she was approached by Sgt. Friedel and Col. Fredrick with the idea.
Sharon Subreenduth, Ph.D., dean of the College of Education, commended the hard work of Linderholm and the team that worked to bring the Call Me MISTER® program to the University.
“It is exciting to see this all come to fruition,” said Subreenduth. “Dr. Linderholm has worked tirelessly with the program representatives at Clemson University, as well Sgt. Friedel and Col. Fredrick to ensure that Georgia Southern and the Call Me MISTER® program were a good fit. As a College, it is one of our goals to assist in diversifying the teacher workforce, and this program is a tangible step in that direction.”
The first cohort of Call Me MISTER® program participants will be accepted by the University for attendance in fall 2022. Anyone who is interested in supporting the program can contact Walton at email@example.com or Linderholm at firstname.lastname@example.org.“