First ‘MISTER’ cohort introduced Oct. 8
(JACKSON, Miss.) – Through a collaboration with Clemson University, Jackson State University has established the nationally recognized Call Me MISTER® program to increase the diversity of teachers, particularly among the lowest performing elementary schools in Mississippi. The collaboration is funded by a $200,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
To formalize the launch, leaders from Jackson State University and Clemson University gathered Oct. 8 at the JSU Student Center, where they introduced the first Call Me MISTER® cohort.
The cohort includes Jackson natives Alexander Gatewood, Ansel Heidelberg, Cortland Moten and Edward Williams and Atlanta native Malcolm Baldwin. The five freshmen will receive scholarship assistance throughout their studies at JSU.
“This program gives me a chance to work with America’s future,” Baldwin said. “It’s also going to give me the support to help me with my studies.”
Call Me MISTER® is an innovative program that recruits African-American male college students from underserved, socioeconomically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities and leads them through a four-year college enrichment experience.
“We are excited about housing the Call Me MISTER® program here at Jackson State University,” said Dr. Daniel Watkins, dean of JSU’s College of Education and Human Development. “This valuable program seeks to increase the pool of black teachers in low performing elementary schools. We are very fortunate to be one of the few states to have this prestigious program.”
Implementing the program will allow JSU to continue to address Mississippi’s most-pressing educational concerns, including closing achievement gaps and the dropout rate. Currently, Mississippi graduates only 46 percent of its black male students from high school, and black males make up only 5 percent of the state’s teacher work force.
“When the students leave this program, they’re going to have not just theory and practice, but they’re going to be leaders,” said Dr. Nikisha Ware, who is executive director of the Mississippi Learning Institute at JSU and will coordinate the university’s Call Me MISTER® program. “That’s extremely key for young black men to have in their formative years.”
MISTER stands for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models. After a decade in South Carolina, 145 MISTERs are enrolled in the program; 80 have graduated from college and been placed in the classroom, resulting in a 40 percent increase in the number of African-American male teachers in South Carolina public elementary schools.
“Think of all the lives that these students will impact and change,” said JSU President Carolyn W. Meyers. “This is proof positive that we are doing all we can do for our community, which is ensuring our future.”
For more information about the Call Me MISTER® program at Jackson State University, contact Dr. Nikisha Ware at 601-979-0208 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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