Clemson’s ‘Call Me Mister’ Program Gets Boost in Funding
Black men wanting to become teachers will get some help from the federal government now that Clemson University has received $500,000 for college scholarships to young Black men who want to be elementary school teachers.
The money will fund Clemson University’s “Call Me Mister” program, a collaboration between Clemson and three historically Black colleges, says U.S. Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.
Scholarships to Benedict College in Columbia, Claflin College in Orangeburg and Morris College in Sumter will help attract Black men into the teaching profession, while Clemson University researchers study the best ways to encourage them to become elementary teachers and strong role models for children.
“Call Me Mister provides an opportunity to develop a strong, accountable teacher education program based on reality, research and results,” DeMint says. “It provides positive role models for minority children and a great opportunity for Black men to enter the teaching profession.”
Minority enrollment is expected to reach 39 percent in South Carolina public schools before the end of this decade, yet fewer than 1 percent of elementary school teachers are Black men, says Tom Parks, project director and an education professor at Clemson University.
Black male teachers, common half a century ago, disappeared along with segregated schools as more lucrative careers opened up for Black men.
“A lot of people associate elementary teachers with being female, and that’s White or Black,” says Jerome Hudson, principal at Palmetto Primary School. “It’s difficult to find White males at the elementary level, and it’s even more difficult to find Black males. Oftentimes you can find men at the secondary level because they can do teaching and coaching.”
And the few Black males going into the teaching profession are recruited quickly, Hudson says.
There are about 100 freshmen and sophomores in the program right now. Parks’ goal is to have 200 young men enter the program over a four-year span.
The program has become a national model and was featured on Oprah Winfrey’s television show last year.
“It’s really generated a lot of interest. Black males are sort of a forgotten part of our society,” Parks says.
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