CU's Call Me MISTER Coordinator Seeking New Scholars

June 10, 2014

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Call Me MISTER Program Director Monroe Griffin, center, himself a Call Me MISTER Scholar, with other Cheyney University MISTER Scholars in front of Burleigh Hall

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Monroe Griffin, the new program coordinator of Cheyney University's Call Me MISTER (Men Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) program, is no stranger to CU. The Philadelphia, PA native was among the first cohorts to go through Cheyney's Call Me MISTER (CMM) program beginning in 2009. Griffin first learned about the educational program when he saw Howard Jean, CU’s first CMM program coordinator, on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2001.

"I was thrilled to see that there was a program that was designed to find qualified young males to act as role models and to become professional educators,” Griffin recalls. “I was so excited by that."

Griffin became a Call Me MISTER Scholar while pursuing his Master degree in Teaching (MAT) with a concentration in Elementary Education at Cheyney University, where his mother and aunt had received their undergraduate teaching degrees in 1968 and 1970 before teaching in the Philadelphia Public School System. In fact his mother also earned her MAT from Cheyney and went on to be assistant principal and principal for several schools in Philadelphia and even taught graduate education classes at Cheyney for a time. As a MISTER Scholar, Griffin participated in enriching programs, including a Fellowship at NASA’s Langley facility in Hampton, VA and educational conferences in Illinois, South Carolina, and Washington DC.

Griffin has taught at elementary and middle schools, is an adjunct instructor at Delaware County Community College and serves as College Success Advisor in CU’s University College. His primary goal is to recruit young males who want to make a difference in children’s lives—particularly in the inner cities.

“We want to attract students who want to teach and be a part of the CMM program. CU gives everyone a chance and will consider whoever is interested in education as a career path. The CMM cohort meets three or four times a month for service learning opportunities, tutoring and workshops to build the writing skills they need for the exams for the three-part PAPA (Pennsylvania Academic Performance Assessment) test and the PECT (Pennsylvania Education Certification Test). We also make sure that they have early service learning opportunities to observe best practices and prepare for student teaching.”

MISTER Scholars receive academic and book scholarships, stipends to cover PAPA and PECT fees and tests, support for conference attendance and access to internships across the country. In addition, they are encouraged to attend various workshops, training, mentoring, professional development and teacher leadership sessions on and off campus.

The Cheyney University CMM program was initiated in 2009 by PA Representative James Roebuck (D-Phila.) through a $1 million grant. To date, 19 CU graduates have earned their undergraduate degrees in elementary education through the program. The current MISTER cohort includes Shaquille Harrison, Darrel Pierce, and Rashaad Washington. Griffin hopes to add a few more students to the program this fall.

“We are proud that all our CMM graduates have teaching careers,” Griffin boasts. “Many of them teach in Pennsylvania schools, including Philadelphia’s Anderson School, Burnie Prep and Mastery schools."

The latest CMM graduate, Tyrik Thorn, who received his diploma May, 2014, is already teaching pre-schoolers and will soon be teaching kindergarteners in the inner city.

“I feel very prepared and confident when going into the classroom,” Thorn shares. “My experiences at Cheyney and my CMM professors prepared me.” He is quick to tell others about the CMM program because he knows first-hand how black role models are desperately needed in the inner cities. Out of a group of 16 Early Childhood Education (ECE) college graduates training to be Kindergarten teachers in June 2014, Thorn was the only male. 

Following a national model, the Call Me MISTER program prepares young men for successful careers as elementary school teachers and provides them with essential resources that will place them in a position to effectively impact the lives of children. The program began at South Carolina's Clemson University as a strategy to recruit teachers under the direction of Dr. Roy Jones. Designed to encourage more African American males to dedicate their lives to becoming role-models in the field of education, the program is backed by the State Department of Education.

All of CU’s current MISTER Scholars came to Cheyney specifically because of the CMM program. Pierce, a sophomore, transferred to CU hoping he’d get into the program and he did. The fact that the CMM Coordinator at Cheyney was a MISTER Scholar himself was an added bonus.
“It definitely makes a difference. He’s someone that I look up to,” Pierce explains. “He’s had a successful career, he can give a lot of advice, and he’s a role model to look up to.”

Washington, the senior in the group, remembers the only male teacher he had growing up—Mr. Meers in 5th grade. He says children should have more male role models especially since so many kids don’t have father figures in their lives.

“I like the challenge of ECE because the younger you mold a child the better off a child will be in the future,” Washington believes. “I want to get them between the ages of 7 and 10-- before their minds get set and I can still make a big difference.”

Harrison took a year off following high school to work for the City Year program, an education-focused nonprofit organization that puts young people to work. He spent his time at Rhodes Middle School in Philadelphia, working as a mentor, tutor and teaching assistant. In the back of his mind though, he remembered speaking to a CU rep at a College Fair a year earlier who told him about the CMM program. Once he got the teaching bug through City Year, he set his sights on going to Cheyney and getting into Call Me MISTER.

“It’s such a great program. It can connect me with other education majors at school and to mentors,” he remarks. “It provides me with financial help to complete school, resources to take the PAPA and valuable resources. I get to go to conferences and sit amongst people who’ve been teaching for years. I get many learning experiences that will help me become better at my craft.”

To learn more about Cheyney University’s Call Me MISTER program click

To apply for entrance into CU’s CMM click

To see the full CMM photo gallery click