As the result of a recent agreement between Lander and Clemson universities, Lander's Department of Teacher Education has been granted a license to participate in South Carolina's Call Me MISTER program.
The mission of the program, first offered in South Carolina 12 years ago by Clemson, is to increase the pool of available teachers from a broader, more diverse background. Student participants are selected from underserved, socioeconomically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities in hopes of improving the quality of instruction in the state's lowest-performing elementary schools.
With the agreement, Lander joins Clemson and 12 other state institutions offering Call Me MISTER, an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models.
Students selected for the program agree to gain certification and teach a year in South Carolina public schools for every year they were in the program, which provides financial aid worth up to $8,000 per year, as well as academic support and social support from other program participants.
Call Me MISTER participants can choose from such majors as early childhood education, elementary education and other K-8 programs such as special education, physical education, art or music.
Professor of special education Dr. Dava O'Connor, who chairs Lander's Department of Teacher Education, said she and her colleagues hope to recruit four or five students to take part in the program each year, beginning with the fall 2013 semester.
She noted that Piedmont Technical College is also "actively working on getting its licensing agreement together" so it can participate in the program in the future, and she said her department will be encouraging Call Me MISTER students at the state's technical colleges to continue their educations at Lander.
O'Connor thanked the Self Family Foundation for its generosity in providing the seed money for the program. She said that the foundation has been, and continues to be, "very supportive and excited about Lander University's bringing this program to our community."
Lander instructor of education Barbara Gilbert, who will serve as faculty coordinator for the program, said that the shortage of teachers reflective of the student population in our elementary schools is a national problem.
"With Call Me MISTER, by identifying and supporting prospective students who attended underserved schools, we hope to attract a more diverse cadre of prospective teachers to better serve future elementary students in those areas," she said.
Those interested in learning more about Lander's Call Me MISTER program should contact Gilbert (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 864-388-8268 or Lander lecturer of teacher education George Austin (email@example.com) at 864-388-8908.