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'Representation matters': SC State program aims to increase, empower black male educators

The Call Me MISTER initiative aims to increase diversity in the pool of available teachers, particularly among the state's lowest performing elementary schools.

ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Since 2000, the Call Me MISTER (CMM) program at South Carolina State University (SCSU) has been training black male educators in the making to prepare them for the classroom.

The Call Me MiSTER (CMM) program is a collaboration between Clemson University and other colleges and universities, including South Carolina State University.

“We’re really trying to prepare our educators to be able to be so powerful and revolutionary that you can take one mister into a school and it can change the entire culture of the school," said SCSU CMM program director Dr. Rashad Anderson.

The misters are education majors getting hands-on experience in local classrooms. This year, they have a mentoring partnership with the Orangeburg County School District. The misters work with three different schools once a week.

“Representation matters, and it is critically important that for an extremely diverse student population that we also have diverse teachers that look like them," said Anderson.

At SC state, there are currently 14 misters in the program. Jordan Puch is one of them.

“My mother was an educator and the neighborhood that I grew up in and the schools that I went to, they weren’t the best of schools. So, just wanting to be the change in the community really inspired me to become an educator.” 

Mister Gabriel Million says growing up, having black male teachers made a major difference in his learning experience.

The Inaugural Orangeburg CMM Recruitment Day was a HUGE success! MiSTER is committed to diversifying SC classrooms🍎🏫 Thanks to all the students from Orangeburg Consolidated school district from coming out!

Posted by SC State University Call Me MiSTER Cohort on Friday, March 25, 2022

RELATED: South Carolina Senate considers education scholarships for low-income students

"Seeing somebody that actually cared for the students, wanted to be there for the students and then actually seeing how it worked and seeing how being a revolutionary educator worked," said Million.

The program is currently accepting applications.  

Through this program, prospective students who have yet to complete the Praxis Core exam are given financial assistance of $5,000 per year. After completing and passing the exam, a student will receive $10,000 in assistance yearly. 

To be eligible for the program, a student must be accepted for enrollment at SC State. They must also plan to reside in a Living and Learning community with the other misters during their entire academic career.

For more information, contact Rashad Anderson at rander29@scsu.edu or 803-536-8490. You can also visit their Facebook page.

The application deadline is April 15.

RELATED: "Teacher Village" groundbreaking in Fairfield County


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