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Lander Student Designs Mentoring Program for Elementary Students

Lander University senior and Call Me MISTER participant David Walters helps a Mathews Elementary School student. Walters developed the Junior MISTER program to provide one-on-one mentoring for male students at the school.

Lander University senior David Walters has taken his responsibilities as a mentor to a new level.

A teacher education major from Anderson, Walters is a participant of Lander's Call Me MISTER program, and leading classrooms as a third grade student-teacher at Mathews Elementary School in Greenwood. While the main goal of the MISTER program is to increase the number of teachers from more diverse backgrounds, it also cultivates a mentoring relationship for youngsters from single-parent households who are in need of male role models.

When the behavior of some Mathews students caused their classmates and teachers to be distracted, Walters seized upon the opportunity to take his mentoring skills a step further. Working directly with the Mathews Elementary guidance counselor, he developed the Junior MISTER program, a one-on-one mentoring initiative designed to identify root causes of behavioral issues of the youngsters while also providing help with academic work.

"The Junior MISTER program is mainly for male students between the third and fifth grades who have had trouble controlling their behavior," Walters explained.

Once each week, Walters and two other Call Me MISTER participants meet with a small group of Mathews students who have been recommended by their teachers. "Once we break the ice with general conversation, we then work with the students one-on-one to identify possible reasons they're making poor choices," Walters said. "The majority of these students come from single-parent households, so they respond strongly to adult males in their lives. We talk about what's going on in their lives, how they feel and how they can overcome obstacles. We also tutor them in the subjects they are struggling with the most."

"Our fifth grade boys, in particular, have embraced having such positive male role models to talk with during the school day," said Andrea Fulmer, principal at Mathews Elementary. "Several of our students have made better choices, which can be directly attributed to David's Junior MISTER program."

"David is phenomenal," exclaimed Iris Stevens, guidance counselor at Mathews Elementary. "I love seeing him interact with our male students. His calm demeanor greatly assists in keeping inappropriate behavior at a minimum while they are with him."