The first cohort of Call Me MISTER students are all recent graduates of Aiken County Public Schools.
The students are as follows:
• Logan Ford, a 2018 graduate of Aiken High School and a rising sophomore at USC Aiken
• Jabarrik Corley, a 2019 graduate of Aiken High School who will attend Aiken Technical College during the 2019-20 school year
• Daylan Abney, a 2019 graduate of Aiken High School who will attend ATC during the 2019-20 school year.
• Tavaris Williams, a 2019 graduate of Midland Valley High School who will attend ATC during the 2019-20 school year
• Stephan Rouse, a 2019 graduate of Silver Bluff High School who will attend USCA during the 2019-20 school year.
Based at Clemson University, the Call Me MISTER program recruits and prepares African American male students for teaching at the elementary or middle school level, where there remains a need for African American male teachers, according to a news release from Aiken County Public Schools. The cohort attended a Call Me MISTER orientation with their parents and guardians at Clemson University’s Madren Conference Center on June 22.
The local program is a partnership among ATC, USCA and Clemson.
Members of the cohort will attend ATC, USCA or both. After graduation, they will accept teaching positions in critical need areas with Aiken County Public Schools.
“We are thrilled to be able to provide a new and sustainable pathway for students to find their career passion and give back to their Aiken County community through the Call Me MISTER program,” Aiken County Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford said in the release. “We look forward to welcoming each student back in the future as new teacher in our school district.”
USCA Chancellor Dr. Sandra Jordan and ATC President Dr. Forest Mahan said they are “excited” to be part of the program.
“Working together, Aiken Tech, the Aiken County school district and USC Aiken will be successful in supporting and attracting a more diverse pool of educators and mentors into our classrooms,” Jordan said.
“Our mission is to provide educational and workforce development opportunities for those in greater Aiken County and what better way to do that than programs such as Call Me MISTER,” Mahan said. “Through this program, ATC will be able to help students build a strong, educational foundation that will ultimately help impact the teacher shortage in South Carolina.”
Despite student data from the S.C. Department of Education from 2018 to 2019 showing more than 33%, or 257,409 of the state’s 777,035 students, are African American, data from the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) shows that just 3%, or 1,461 of South Carolina’s 50,863 teachers, are African American males, according to the release.
That percentage is even lower in Aiken County, as CERRA data shows only 2%, or 36 of the district’s 1,526 teachers, are African American males, according to the release.
In Aiken County public elementary schools, the percentage drops again to just 1% as only eight of the school district’s 789 elementary school teachers are African American males, according to the release.
“The data we have is quite clear in this regard, recruiting African American males to the teaching profession remains an area of critical need, not only for our school district but across our entire state,” Alford said. “Unfortunately, this situation is even more dire at the elementary and middle school instructional levels. The Call Me MISTER program marks an important step in addressing this need here in Aiken County.”