A program’s rebirth is giving these young men of color a platform and opportunity to mentor the next generation
The Call Me MiSTER program at Anderson University recruits African American men to become elementary school teachers and administrators who can make a difference in the lives of countless students.
Kevin Williams serves as the site coordinator for Call Me MiSTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) at Anderson University. He considers himself blessed to pour into these students and be impacted by their stories and their lives.
“Call Me MiSTER is meeting a great need in our community by increasing the pool of available teachers from a broader, more diverse background, particularly among the state's lowest performing elementary schools. This will impact teaching in the state of South Carolina and has launched out beyond the state, becoming a national program,” Williams said.
Williams noted that the saying “We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us” rings true as Call Me MiSTER graduates who are now educators are role models.
When Justus Cox was still in high school, he learned about the MiSTER program at Anderson University. After showing interest, he was invited to attend some of AU’s MiSTER summits. His admiration of the program grew when he saw the difference it made.
“I wanted to have that same level of impact. So MiSTER wasn’t new to me once I got in college,” Cox said. “We’d do an internship every summer where we were working with local students and doing various summer camps. We had our own classrooms and we had to set up these lessons, so that really prepared me before I went into the classroom. That was a life- changing experience in itself.”
Cox graduated in 2016 from the Anderson University College of Education and is currently enrolled in the college’s master of education in administration and supervision degree program. He has worked at Monaview Elementary School under principal and MiSTER alumnus Damon Qualls and New Prospect Elementary in Anderson. He began teaching fifth grade at Varennes Elementary School in Anderson last year.
We really buy into Call Me MiSTER as a lifestyle, leaning on the motto of ‘each one reach one.'
— JJ Lies
Assistant Principal at Westview Elementary School
Anderson University College of Education graduate Antonio Scott is assistant principal of Northside Elementary School in Seneca, South Carolina, which is Oconee County’s largest elementary school. When he graduated from Anderson in December of 2017, Scott taught third grade in Anderson School District 5. He went on to teach fifth grade at A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School in Greenville, then on to Northside Elementary School in Seneca, where he also taught fifth grade.
“I always knew I wanted to work with kids. I would work with kids at Sunday School and church,” said Scott, who initially considered becoming a pediatrician before choosing a career in education.
“When it comes to Call Me MiSTER, everything about that program speaks excellence. That program has created so many outstanding opportunities,” Scott said. “I had some really good professors that cared about me and wanted me to be successful. I have built lifetime relationships with some of the other members and I am extremely thankful for that.”
After graduating from Anderson, Scott went on to pursue degrees in educational leadership and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Education, and plans one day to earn a doctorate.
Guiding high school students statewide through online learning at the Cyber Academy of South Carolina is Mykal Moore, a 2016 graduate and MiSTER. He enjoys the challenge of serving a diverse and unique student population. Moore said students choose remote learning because they’ve been bullied; need flexibility for sports-related travel; are concerned about COVID-19; or simply aren’t doing well in a traditional setting, among other reasons.
Prior to coming to the Cyber Academy, Moore taught third grade at East North Street Elementary School in Greenville under assistant principal Cory Terry, also a MiSTER. Later, he taught sixth grade at Legacy Charter School. Moore takes the Call Me MiSTER mission of being a dedicated leader seriously and credits its former director with helping him become more mature, focused and disciplined while attending Anderson University.
“(The director) said, ‘Start looking at yourself as a man.’ That spoke to my insecurity and drew out the man in me with that simple statement,” Moore said. “It was a game changer for me.”
“We really buy into Call Me MiSTER as a lifestyle, leaning on the motto of ‘Each one reach one,’” said JJ Lies, assistant principal at Westview Elementary School in Spartanburg, South Carolina and a 2013 College of Education graduate.
“We really enjoy breaking down stereotypes. What you may see in the media of the young African American male, we’re here to say ‘That’s not us, that’s not the narrative.’ We’re not going to stand by and watch our kids be drawn in different directions when we know the history of excellence of education and scholarship and leadership in the Black communities, especially what we encounter growing up in the Black churches.”