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Building beautiful bridges over educational gaps

Call Me MISTER® Cohort Jordan Moreno and Director Calvin Walton, Ph.D.

The Call Me MISTER® (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) Program at Georgia Southern University is rounding out its inaugural year. Riding the wave of success, Director Calvin Walton, Ph.D., of the College of Education said the program’s new goal for the 2023-2024 year is simple: expansion – both in participants as well as community involvement and awareness. 

“Our goal is to recruit three to five MISTERs every year and work with them,” explained Walton. “I am hopeful that by the time we are four to five years down the line we can expand to have 12 to 15 MISTERs. A long-term goal is to make sure that people in the Savannah-Chatham community know who we are, that we exist and understand why we should be an integral part of any plan or program to improve the quality of education in this area.”

Since 2014, ethnic and racial minorities make up more than half of the student population in U.S. public schools. However, roughly 80% of teachers are white and 77% of them are female. People of color make up about 20% of teachers. On top of that, a mere 2% are Black men.

Having at least one Black teacher in an elementary school cuts the high school dropout rates of very low-income Black males by 39%. One of the most critical issues in K-12 education is the academic achievement gap between white students and students of color, particularly Black students.

Call Me MISTER® places a significant emphasis on closing these achievement gaps for elementary students.

To help its mission, the program is partnered with 100 Black Men of Savannah. Through the affiliation, Call Me MISTER® participants provide mentorship every Friday at Largo Tibet Elementary School in Savannah, Georgia.

“Through our partnership with Call Me MISTER®, we are able to better serve more elementary students by teaching them life skills at a young age with the hope of giving them a head start in life,” said 100 Black Men of Savannah Chairperson Shed Dawson.

Walton would like present and future cohorts to become firmly grounded in social justice education. He also strives for MISTERs to practice culturally responsive teaching and learning so they may become more aware of critical factors that play a role in inequitable public education systems in the United States.

Jordan Moreno, a member of the inaugural cohort, loves the diversity of the program.

“I feel like experiences should be open to everyone, and it’s nice to see other people who are of my skin tone be passionate about teaching,” says Moreno. “The program is already awesome, so I know for a fact that it’s going to become even better.”

Moreno presented at the Georgia Math Conference and plans to further his studies in education to become a teacher following graduation. 

Although the Call Me MISTER® Program focuses on males who are interested in elementary education, females and those who may have other education majors are accepted and encouraged to participate.

For more information on the Call Me MISTER® Program and ways to apply, visit their web page.

Last updated: 1/26/2023