Grambling State Call Me Mister program set to host first Louisiana conference June 30

by T.Scott Boatright

Not even halfway through the year, 2022 has been big for the Call Me MiSTER program at Grambling State University (GSU).

Earlier this year the GSU Call Me MiSTER program was awarded $2 million as part of $15 million in federal funding for the state’s Fifth Congressional District share of the annual federal budget.

Grambling State University is now set to host the 2022 Call Me MiSTER conference on June 30 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Frederick C. Hobdy Assembly Center. Using the theme DETERMINED, the event will be the first of its kind in the state of Louisiana.

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 the U.S. 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 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.

“We are very excited to host this great national event. We understand that there is a teacher shortage everywhere, but when you think about where to go get Black male teachers, you must consider contacting Grambling State University,” said Dr. George Noflin, an associate professor and director of GSU’s Call Me MiSTER program.

Noflin said the conference will have several objectives including: Bringing awareness to the Call Me MiSTER Program; Reaffirming the determination and resilience of black men as servant leaders; Presenting the possibility of using the pre-teacher pathway as an avenue to create an Aspiring MiSTER Program in school districts to create a pipeline from school districts to Grambling State and back to school districts; and Ringing the bell from a national stage that Black men are great husbands, great fathers, and great teachers.

Roy Jones, the executive director of the Eugene T. Moore School of Education’s Call Me Mister program at Clemson, said he is pleased to see Grambling State hosting the conference and proudly awaits participating in it.

“The Call Me MiSTER Program National Office at Clemson University Congratulates Grambling State University for their extraordinary initiative to host a Louisiana statewide conference entitled DETERMINED!,” Jones said. “The aim to increase primarily the number of African American male Educators and provide resources and networking opportunities for participants is well aligned with the objectives of the nationally acclaimed Call Me MiSTER program. My colleagues and I are honored to be invited to participate in this milestone event at Grambling and expect the synergy generated will further empower determination among many desiring to make a transformative difference in their communities.”

Jones credited the work of Noflin and others at Grambling State for the work the university has done in making a quick and big impact on the Call Me MiSTER program in an endorsement letter he sent to GSU President Rick Gallot.

“Dr. George Noflin has been a great ambassador for your institution and a joy to work with as he continues to develop the MiSTERs participating in the program,” Jones wrote. “For years, I have heard so many positive comments from colleagues among several other institutions, who have credited Dr. Noflin for his unselfish assistance with their newly minted program in the region. My colleagues and I look forward to our opportunity to visit Grambling in June in support of your statewide convening. It will certainly be a time of celebration, inspirational and instructional given the powerful lineup on the agenda.”

Those making appearances at GSU’s conference will include U.S. Congresswoman Julia Letlow from Monroe, Louisiana, who helped bring in the federal funding for GSU’s Call Me MiSTER program along with Edward Williams, the first MiSTER in Mississippi; Nick Cobb, the first MiSTER in Louisiana; and Rashad Anderson, director of the Call Me MiSTER program at South Carolina State University.

“As I think about how this program is growing, I must remember that to whom much is given, much is required, and it just makes us that much more determined and committed to help the students we have to be successful,” Noflin said. “Our true success is not in this conference, but it is how successful the future teachers are as they influence the children they serve.”