“Throw me something, Mister” is a phrase that has become an important part of springtime Louisiana folklore, especially during Mardi Gras season.
Grambling State University’s “Call Me MiSTER” program is on the receiving end this time, according to U.S. Congresswoman Julia Letlow.
During a recent interview, Letlow told KNOE television in Monroe, Louisiana, that GSU’s “Call Me Mister” program will receive $2 million as part of $15 million in federal funding for the state’s Fifth Congressional District share of the annual federal budget.
“The students in Grambling’s Call Me MiSTER program play such a critical role in the future of our region. We’re incredibly proud to have secured this funding and guided it through the appropriations process in Congress,” Letlow said. “Our team is grateful for the partnership with President Gallot, Dr. Noflin, and the entire Grambling community, and we look forward to bringing home more investment for the university in the future.”
The Call Me MiSTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role models) program was founded originally at Clemson University in 2000. The program strives to increase the pool of available teachers from a more diverse background, particularly among the lowest-performing elementary schools.
Because less than 2% of the teachers in America are African American males, Grambling State’s Black Male Teacher Initiative joined with Clemson’s program to help develop and recruit more Black men into the teaching profession.
Student participants are largely selected from among under-served, socio-economically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities. Call Me MiSTER serves students at 19 participating colleges within South Carolina as well as eight national partner institutions, including Grambling State.
“This is wonderful news and I believe it shows the recognition of the underrepresentation of Black male educators and what they mean to our educational system,” said GSU President Rick Gallot. “This is such an important program and I’m very appreciative of Congresswoman Letlow and others who have realized the importance and significance of the program and are working to help us continue to keep it growing and moving forward.”
Roy Jones, the executive director of the Eugene T. Moore School of Education’s Call Me Mister program at Clemson, celebrated Grambling State’s news of the largest single amount awarded to a Call Me MiSTER program.
“The $2 million dollar award and endorsement by Louisiana Congresswoman Letlow in support of the Grambling State University program is a significant demonstration of the need to diversify the educator pipeline and the committed leadership at Grambling to fulfill the mission of Call Me MiSTER,” Jones said. “The award is the single largest received by one of our partner institutions since the inception of the program in 2000.”
Dr. George Petersen, founding dean of Clemson’s College of Education, shared in the excitement about GSU’s news.
“Congratulations to Grambling State University for their receipt of a $2 million federal award to enhance and support the national renown Call Me MiSTER program on their campus!” Petersen said. “We are proud to be a partner in the journey to provide highly effective educators for our K-12 students.”
Participants in GSU’s Call Me Mister program receive scholarships, preferred housing, individual advising, mentors from practicing or retired professionals, recognition at school activities, professional development opportunities, and more. As graduates, program participants are expected to have an impact by returning to critical need schools and communities to pursue their professional careers.
Dr. George Noflin, Jr., director of GSU’s Call Me MiSTER, said that the news reminded him of the scripture that says when you are faithful with a little, you will also be faithful with much (Matthew 25:21).
“I am very thankful to President Gallot and the entire GRAM Family and Congresswoman Letlow, for the opportunity to serve these students in the Call Me MiSTER Program and the thousands of students that will be affected by them.”
Noflin said that GSU presently has eight students (MiSTERS) in the program and that the goal is to add seven to 10 new MiSTERS annually, adding that the additional funding will allow for GSU’s Call Me MiSTER program to expand to a larger level.
“What this does is expands our efforts from statewide and regionally to a more nationally focused recruiting effort and assists us to be more precise in meeting the needs of each student and more direct in the effort of making them the very best certified teacher (MiSTER) possible,” Noflin said.
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