New opportunities are available for Spartanburg Community College students considering careers in education, thanks to a grant from Dabo's All In Team Foundation. Awarded as part of the Foundation's annual donation to the Call Me MiSTER Program, SCC received $3,750 to purchase textbooks and suits for five students working towards becoming teachers in the state of South Carolina.
SCC and Clemson University partnered in 2017 to offer Upstate men an opportunity to become elementary teachers through a unique educational mentorship initiative aimed at increasing South Carolina's diverse teacher pool of candidates - the Call Me Mister program. The term MiSTER is an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models, and is primarily a mentoring program where young minority students will be mentored into effective leaders, well trained teachers, and will then become mentors themselves to students once in the classroom. SCC's MiSTER program is the first in Spartanburg, starting in fall of 2017 with a first cohort of five students. Since the program's inception, Dabo's All In Team Foundation has been a steadfast supporter, offering financial assistance to projects that quantifiably support the future educators of South Carolina.
"This is a vital program not only for our future educators but for our community at large," explains Frederick Keenan, site coordinator for SCC's new program. "We not only need more teachers in our state but we need more diversity, we need young minority males to aspire to be educators. The way we make that happen is by putting more minority males in front of them in our classrooms. We can only aspire to be what we are able to see, and unfortunately our minority students are not seeing enough people in education that look like them."
The students who make up the cohort of MiSTER students will receive a suit from Prices' Store for Men in downtown Spartanburg, a family owned and operated store. Prices' has employed students part-time for decades, and has fostered connections with local colleges. The project of helping young men suit up was exciting and an initiative the owner was happy to be part of. "We've been working with students since our beginning back in 1903," says Harry Price, owner of Prices'. "When a student puts on his first suit it can be transformational. You've got to be prepared for the real world and the correct attire is a piece of that preparation." In addition to receiving a suit from Prices', SCC students will also receive a $500 credit for textbooks at the SCC bookstore through the grant funding.
Chauncey Garner, a 2015 Gaffney High School graduate and a SCC student in the MiSTER program, was recently fitted for a suit at Prices' thanks to the Dabo's All In Team Foundation grant to the SCC Foundation. "The MiSTER program is a great opportunity for me to interact with other minority males that have the same goals as I do," explains Garner. "I want to become a teacher for several reasons - Nyal, my niece, being born - she's a big influence in my life. Also, because of Gaffney, where I'm from. There are a lot of minorities in my community, some with no father figures around; that leads to trouble. I want to stop the next generation from getting into trouble. I want to lead them in the right direction so they know they can be whatever they want to be." Garner adds that after graduating from SCC in December 2018, he plans to transfer to four-year college, university to pursue a baccalaureate degree in education so he can teach kindergarten through second grade. "I work at Walmart and see lots of kids come through. I interact really well with the younger kids."
To provide even greater opportunity and access, MiSTER students have the option of first attending one of the MiSTER two-year partner colleges before transferring to one of the four-year institutions to complete their baccalaureate degree. In addition, the project has limited enrollment in the middle school Master of Art in Teaching program.
"We are recruiting potential students now for SCC's fall 2018 semester," says Keenan. "This is an amazing opportunity for prospective students interested in becoming teachers in SC." For more information on SCC's Call Me MiSTERprogram, visit www.sccsc.edu/callmemister/ or contact Frederick Keenan at (864) 592-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos of MiSTER Students at Prices' Store for Men can be downloaded at the following link: www.flickr.com/MiSTER