Kennesaw State University (KSU) received a grant from the Georgia Power Foundation for an initiative to increase the number of African American male teachers.

The grant will fund Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models), a program launched in KSU’s Bagwell College of Education, that will provide academic support, mentorship, tuition assistance and job placement assistance to promote success among Black male teacher candidates.

“Schools and communities are growing increasingly diverse and, while school systems throughout the country have recognized the importance of Black male teachers, they often struggle to recruit and retain them,” said Adrian Epps, interim dean of the Bagwell College of Education. “We believe that the Call Me MISTER program will exponentially enhance the Bagwell College’s commitment to increasing Black male presence in the teaching field.”

Call Me MISTER students will participate in service-learning projects with local school districts and will meet regularly with mentors, their cohort and the director of Kennesaw State’s program, Tristan Glenn. The KSU students’ teacher training will include sessions in the Bagwell College’s mixed-reality avatar lab, where they will interact with virtual representations of diverse groups of children in classroom settings.

“It is a realistic outcome for many students of color to traverse their entire schooling experience and never have a teacher who reflects their racial, cultural and ethnic heritage and identity,” said Glenn, an associate professor of special education in the Department of Inclusive Education. “The beauty of a Call Me MISTER program is that we are intentional about recruiting and developing educators who then can go into school systems and relate to and respond effectively to the growing population of children of color.”

Students of color represent more than half of the public school population in the United States, but Black males account for only 2 percent of the teacher workforce, according to the National Center of Education Statistics. As part of Call Me MISTER’s efforts to narrow that gap, participants will be engaged in mentorship and learning opportunities starting in their very first semesters at KSU.

Call Me MISTER began at Clemson University and has expanded to schools in seven states and the District of Columbia. With the $25,000 grant from the Georgia Power Foundation, Kennesaw State is the second university in Georgia to establish a CMM program.

“At Georgia Power, we believe in the importance of having strong male role models in classrooms across our state to educate and uplift the next generation,” said Britt Fleck, regional director at Georgia Power and a KSU Foundation trustee. “We are proud for our Foundation to support the Call Me MISTER program at Kennesaw State University, where they are preparing students to be influential educators in our communities for decades to come.”

(Photo: Courtesy of Kennesaw State University)

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