AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — A recruiting effort is underway at the University of South Carolina Aiken to bring more minority males into the school system.
“Throughout kindergarten all the way to graduating, I didn’t see a single teacher that, you know, looked like me,” USCA Call Me Mister participant Alex Molina told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk. “I only had one black male teacher. And, but that experience really connected me to education.” Call Me Mister Program Director Rashad Paige.
The mission of the Call Me Mister initiative is to increase the number of available teachers from broader, more diverse backgrounds. “I grew up in New Jersey. It’s the nationwide problem, not even a South Carolina problem,” Paige added.
According to school leaders, statistics show that having at least one black teacher in elementary grade levels can reduce a black student’s probability of dropping out of school by 29%. Forty percent are more likely to go on to pursue higher education after high school. “I didn’t believe honestly that I can go to college until I had that, that fifth-grade experience with my black male teacher,” Paige recalled. “It gave me the inspiration, the motivation, and the connection to just higher aspiration, like educationally,” he added.
The requirement for the program is a 2.7 GPA. The program is also open to those who have passed or are looking to take the praxis within the next year and education majors.
Thanks to a partnership with Aiken County Schools, students from the district like Alex, are better able to be placed in jobs right out of college.
“I plan on going to teach music education. I feel like music can be so helpful, not only to like, moral development but for physical development as well,” Molina added.