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MSU Denver welcomes program designed to recruit Black male teachers

Less than 2% of educators in the U.S. are Black males
Call Me MISTER.jpg
Posted at 3:41 PM, Mar 05, 2024

DENVER — A teacher leadership program called Call Me MISTER designed to help recruit and place Black male teachers recently launched at Metropolitan State University of Denver’s School of Education.
MISTERis an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role models and was founded in 2000 at Clemson University in South Carolina.

“I was paired with one of the first graduates of the Call Me MISTER Program, and I can remember going up into his classroom and it was the first day. And as I'm walking up, I'm hearing hip hop instrumentals playing I'm like, ‘Oh, my goodness, this is a little different.' I open up the door and the kids were rapping to multiplication tables,” said Dr. Rashad Anderson, Director of the Call Me Mister Program and MSU Denver associate professor. “It was at that moment, I knew what my calling in life would be and that was to be an educator."

Anderson attended South Carolina State University for undergrad.

"I was a MISTER there, did graduate work and came back and took over the same cohort that I graduated from. I had a trip out here to Denver, and that kind of solidified that I wanted to be the person to bring Call Me MISTER here to the west coast..”

Anderson said his decision was affirmed during an educational conference when a Denver Public Schools student described his school experience.

“He said ‘I never had a Black teacher’ and he was a junior in high school... I think that was an instance that I felt I really knew that I had work to do in Denver, and that Call Me MISTER could be the solution to the problem too, so that kids that are in the schools, they have a teacher that looks like them,” Anderson said.

Call Me MISTER is broken up into groups, veteran MISTERs or men already working in education and new MISTERs who mentor younger students participating in the program.

These new MISTERs then apply what they’re learning and mentor K-12 students by partnering with local school districts for school-based youth mentorship programs.

Jeremy Eddie, Denver Public Schools Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition is a veteran MISTER who moved to Colorado to help launch the program. He said the mentorship component is already seeing positive results in Denver’s Green Valley Ranch neighborhood.

“They're doing their student teaching experience at Green Valley Elementary School...I come to tell you that the Call Me MISTER Program is doing amazing things, not only for the students, the staff but the community,” Eddie said.

According to Eddie, the program’s launch is coming at a crucial time.

150 out of the 176 school districts do not have Black educators. That is a staggering statistic. You know, here in Denver Public Schools, you know, 4.6% of our staff are black educators,” Eddie said. “If we drill that down a little bit further, a little bit more than 2% are Black males. But honestly, that is a statistic nationwide. So when I think about that, and having our MISTERs a part of what we're trying to do, Dr. Anderson says it best, it's revolutionary.”

“My experience in Call Me MISTER... it's been nothing less than transformative,” said Joshua Barringer, Vice President of the Call Me MISTER Mile High Cohort.

Barringer is a junior secondary education major at MSU Denver who also moved to Denver from South Carolina with Anderson to launch the program.

“Coming to Denver was kind of like a call to action,” said Barringer. “I've traveled all across the world, and being able to speak to students, you know, not even just students, but students that have a reputation of not being the greatest students we've been able to change the perspective on them.”

But Anderson said becoming a MISTER isn’t for the faint of heart.

“I have this saying that a MISTER has to be so revolutionary, that one MISTER can go into a school and change the entire culture of a classroom, of school building, and a community,” Anderson said.

Call Me MISTER will host an AFRO (Aiming For Racial Opportunity) Summit on April 19th.

Barringer said this will serve as a recruitment event for interested high schools students.

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