Cameron Brice Finds Purpose and Focus with Call Me MISTER Program
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1/5/2009
CONTACT: WINSTON HOLTON, 656-6333
(By Lisa Garrett)
PENDLETON ---When you ask most individuals, they can, without missing a beat, pinpoint the teacher from their elementary school years, usually from grades three, four, or five, who made a difference in their lives.
Most times it’s a female teacher and rarely is the individual an African American male.
The educational landscape is similar today, but the Call Me MISTER program is looking to change the face of education in America by putting more African American males in the classroom as teachers and role models.
Nationally acclaimed and in its ninth year, Call Me MISTER is a scholarship teaching program developed by Clemson University to meet the shortage of teachers from underrepresented populations in South Carolina's elementary schools. The program is a collaborative effort between Clemson University and several other two- and four-year institutions across the state. Additionally, Call Me MISTER has national affiliates in Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Cameron Brice, of Anderson, wants to be one of the change agents. In his entire 12 years of school, he had one male teacher, in the second grade, and he was white. “I want to change that. We have the power to change children’s lives by becoming teachers. I want to see myself and others teaching at the elementary school level,” said Brice, who maintains a 3.25 GPA and will graduate from Clemson in 2010.
Cameron began college at Tri-County Technical College in the Bridge to Clemson program. He joined the Tri-County MISTERS and immediately found his purpose and focus. “It connected me with like-minded individuals who also want to be teachers. We learn from each other and the program helps us to develop as men, not just as teachers,” he said.
There are more than 80 School Districts in South Carolina and among them are 200-plus elementary schools, said Winston Holton, field coordinator for the Call Me MISTER Program at Clemson University. There are 20,000 elementary school teachers and of those, less than 200 are African American males. “Nearly sixty-five percent of African American males drop out of school, leaving almost seven out of every 10 males in this community without so much as a high school diploma. We are looking for young men who want to be part of the solution, not the problem. We want to produce those teachers. We are looking for people like MISTER Brice, who want to own that responsibility,” said Holton.
Brice says the weekly meetings with Holton are ones he looks forward to. “He is so good at pulling out the best in me and helping me to work on areas where I am lacking. He coaches us in life skills. I take it very seriously. I am very focused,” said Brice.
Call Me MISTER participants, like every teacher education candidate, must fulfill all of the requirements for South Carolina certification. However, unlike their fellow classmates, MISTERS also must submit to an intense co-curriculum designed to inspire personal growth, develop effective mentoring skills and inculcate the dispositions necessary for servant leadership.
“There is no greater place to be if you are serious about being a change agent,” said Holton. “The Call Me MISTER program prepares you to do the work that needs to be done in South Carolina. Many of our highest performing students traditionally have come from Tri-County Technical College, which truly has become a springboard to academic success. When they get to Clemson, we then connect them to children -- we connect them to their purpose. They will change the face of education in S.C.”
"Call Me MISTER" is a reference to Sidney Poitier's famous line from the movie, "In the Heat of the Night." MISTER is an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models.