Standing Up For Men, Serving Students
Mark Joseph, a fourth-grade chair, teacher-mentor, and coach at Westcliffe Elementary in Greenville, North Carolina, will likely be the only African-American teacher his students will ever have. He is one of only 150 black men out of the 20,000 elementary teachers in the state.
“I was hungry to become a teacher,” says Joseph, one of the first graduates of Clemson University’s Call Me MISTER program, which recruits, inspires, trains, and mentors African-American men to be elementary school teachers. (The program is part of Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network.) “I was really looking for my purpose—my place in life. This is it.”
Joseph, who greets his students every morning in a suit and tie, is well aware that he and the other MISTERs are role models. “We provide images of success, of people who refused to fail,” he says. Many of his students have never before known a person of color in a position of authority. “Being a man is about service,” says Joseph. “We serve the students we teach.”
More About Call Me MISTER
The Name: Inspired by Sidney Poitier’s famous line from In the Heat of the Night, MISTER stands for Men Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models.
The Numbers: Only 2.4 percent of the nation’s K–12 teachers are black men.
The Motivation: Our kids need caring black men in their lives, as role models and as teachers, says the program’s director, Roy Jones.
The Details: Visit www.callmemister.clemson.edu, or call 800-640-2657.