By George J. Petersen Ph.D.
When tackling issues related to education, what is the key to success?
One longstanding program in Clemson’s College of Education gives us a blueprint. More than two decades ago, Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) was born from a need to increase the number of teachers from diverse backgrounds in South Carolina.
The program began work providing participants with a unique blend of cohort-based support, leadership opportunities and job placement. Today, 305 students have graduated from the program in South Carolina. Approximately 85 percent still teach in the state’s public schools, with most remaining graduates serving in educational leadership positions. The program has expanded from four original partner colleges in 2000 to 42 colleges across 11 states, including 27 in South Carolina.
The key to Call Me MISTER’s success? Innovation. At its outset, the program was a novel idea in our college. Today, the program is widely known for its state and national impact and for meeting a vital need.
Our college is now nurturing a new generation of innovative programs addressing complex issues in education. We initiated the state’s first university-led teacher residency program, which affords students a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years and a yearlong residency experience. We work with school districts and technical colleges to develop accelerated pathways for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in education from Clemson. We developed a certificate of online teaching to support educators in the face of growing needs for virtual education.
We started the Center for the Recruitment and Retention of Diverse Educators, focusing on minority teacher recruitment and retention strategies. In cooperation with Coastal Carolina University, The Citadel and Winthrop University, we offer an Ed.D. in Education Systems Improvement Science that explores complex education problems. We created Perfecting Your Roar, a professional development program for first-year teachers held in cooperation with school districts.
These efforts join Call Me MISTER in a long line of programs addressing teacher recruitment, preparation, retention and support through research-based, pioneering approaches. We are pleased to continue the quest for innovation in education — one that will impact lives in South Carolina and beyond for years to come.
George J. Petersen Ph.D. is the founding dean of the Clemson University College of Education.
Clemson Corner is a bimonthly column on all things Clemson University. From individuals reaching new heights, research breakthroughs and discoveries, or events that can bring us all together, you’ll be able to learn more about the people who make Clemson, Greenville and South Carolina such a special place.