Clemson University’s storied Call Me MISTER program celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and due to the pandemic has adapted its typical summer leadership institute into a yearlong leadership series.
The Call Me MISTER Summer Leadership Institute features guest speakers and networking opportunities for MISTERs (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) from every member institution. Due to COVID-19, the institute in late June was abbreviated and featured an online speaker, which was well received by students. The Call Me MISTER Leadership Series was born from this event, as leadership saw the value in using Zoom to cover topics ranging from practical instruction to leadership values over the course of an entire academic year.
According to Roy Jones, executive director of Call Me MISTER, leadership in the program will “take the pulse” of current students in their home areas to learn what they want out of an ongoing online series. Protests revolving around race, police brutality, statues of historical figures and building names have obviously emerged as topics that students want to explore and seek guidance on. In a time of uncertainty in the future of higher education budgets and enrollment, Call Me MISTER’s focus on practical instruction and context is why MISTER has only seen increased interest from institutions looking to start Call Me MISTER programs. Jones said the interest is there because a teacher shortage will still be present if not worse whenever the pandemic ends, and institutions will still prioritize diversifying the teacher workforce as student demographics continue to change.
“Our program aims to continue positioning MISTERs to stand in the gap between vulnerable students and the outside world.” – Roy Jones, executive director, Call Me Mister
“Some of these students may be missing that crucial adult role model, but they will all have teachers in front of them,” Jones said. “The masses won’t be able to sit down and talk to a therapist about what’s going on in the world. That would be great, but it’s not realistic. If you have instability in a community, the next best thing is a teacher, and our program aims to continue positioning MISTERs to stand in the gap between vulnerable students and the outside world. The way we do that is preparing these teachers in the context of the world around them.”
The Call Me MISTER Leadership Series kicks off in September featuring Dr. Alfred Tatum, dean of the University of Illinois/Chicago’s College of Education.
Roy Jones image caption: Roy Jones listens to a Call Me MISTER student address the room during a previous Summer Leadership Institute.
Students image caption: Students attending a past Summer Leadership Institute gave its speakers full attention as they recounted their personal experiences.
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