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Clemson introduces teacher residency program 
to improve teacher, student outcomes

In November, Clemson’s College of Education introduced South Carolina’s first university-led teacher residency program. The program is centered around the college’s new combined degree option for undergraduate education students that replaces student teaching in a student’s final undergraduate semester with graduate education classes. The fifth year is comprised of a year-long teacher residency.

Teacher Residency BenefitsThe residency program, housed within the Eugene T. Moore School of Education, will see its graduates emerge after five years with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education as well as an extended, year-long student teaching experience. According to George J. Petersen, founding dean of the College of Education, this degree option better prepares teachers and aligns with the most successful efforts at educational reform to prepare and retain classroom-ready teachers.

 

“When it comes to reforming education, innovation is key,” Petersen said.“Research has shown that extending time in the classroom provides a more comprehensive foundation and inspires mastery and self-confidence. It also keeps budding teachers in their classrooms long after graduation.”

Petersen said numbers related to teacher attrition aren’t going to get better without an innovative approach. The negative effects of teacher shortfalls are only compounded by high teacher turnover, which causes problems for schools across the state. In addition to being expensive, it causes a loss of institutional knowledge, school capacity building and consistent teamwork among teachers across grade levels.

Whereas traditional student teaching provides a snapshot, teacher residencies give students the whole picture of teaching as a career. This is proven in other states with similar programs where teacher retention rose to as high as 90 percent over three years.

Cost to Replace a Teacher in SC is $18,000Petersen said the development of an Upstate pilot program is only the first step in a campaign he hopes to expand to the Lowcountry and across the state to reach areas hardest hit by teacher attrition and lacking student outcomes.

Jeff Marshall, chair of Clemson’s teaching and learning department, said college leadership and district representatives are hard at work fleshing out the master teacher selection process and the teacher resident-school district matching process. They also plan to develop an approach to research and ongoing evaluation of the program.

“The faculty and districts don’t want to just hope this will make a difference,” Marshall said. “We want to be able to measure this program’s impact with hard data that shows we’re making a positive impact on teachers and, more importantly, on students.”

The power of partnerships

Professor Sandra Linder (standing) is helping lead the program to provide childcare teachers and home-based caregivers with skills that support mathematics learning among young children.

Professor Sandra Linder (standing) is helping lead the program to provide childcare teachers and home-based caregivers with skills that support mathematics learning among young children.

Support for developing math skills, simulation software for automotive engineering and a state-of-the-art digital press may not seem to have a lot in common. But all three of these will be pivotal in educating Clemson students for the future. And they’re all the results of gifts from corporations and foundations that are valuable partners with the University.

The PNC Foundation and the Eugene T. Moore School of Education agree that it’s never too early to develop math skills. The PNC Foundation has awarded Project BEEMS (Building Environments for Early Mathematics Success) a $50,000 grant to support the program that supports mathematics learning among young children across the state and nation.

The first year of Project BEEMS, also funded by the PNC Foundation, took place in 12 Head Start centers and showed very positive results. Forming an early mathematical understanding can be particularly helpful in establishing problem-solving and communication skills, according to Sandra Linder, project director and associate professor of early childhood mathematics education.

“The project is part of the Eugene T. Moore School of Education’s continuing focus on systematically improving education and an example of the school’s commitment to underserved communities,” said Dean George J. Petersen. “We are proud and thankful to be partnering with the PNC Foundation on this project.”

When graphic communications and packaging science students return to campus this fall, they’ll find an HP Indigo 5000 Digital Press in place and ready to use, thanks to a gift valued at $505,825 from Hewlett Packard. More than 600 students, many of whom will receive industry certification, will have hands-on experience using the press each year.

As growth opportunities in the digital print market shift from commercial printing to packaging, the need for talent also shifts. Clemson is uniquely positioned to work closely with HP Indigo to develop a pipeline of capable talent and meet the needs of industry. Having hands-on experience using the HP Indigo gives Clemson students invaluable access to a growing market segment through internship and career opportunities.

Professor Srikanth Pila demonstrates to his graduate students how the Moldex software further enhances research in his lab at CU-ICAR.

Professor Srikanth Pila demonstrates to his graduate students how the Moldex software further enhances research in his lab at CU-ICAR.

A $1.625 million gift from Moldex3D to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research will both provide students with valuable hands-on-experience in computer-aided engineering (CAE) software and advance faculty research, particularly in the area of injection molding.

Anthony Yang, president of Moldex3D Northern America, said it is their responsibility to assist the academic world in nurturing the next generation by offering its state-of-the-art simulation technologies and resources. “As the world’s largest independent CAE software developer, we are truly pleased for the opportunity to partner with Clemson University, which has one of the most elite automotive engineering programs in the world, to help students gain more practical hands-on CAE experiences and further equip them with a viable simulation ability to compete in the future job market,” he said.

All three of these gifts are part of the Will to Lead for Clemson capital campaign.

 

Game Changer

Education changed everything for Eugene T. Moore School of Education founding Dean George J. Petersen and his family. Now, he is ready to do the same for children and families throughout South Carolina — and beyond.

As founding dean of Clemson’s Eugene T. Moore School of Education, you would expect me to say glowing things about the role of education in the lives of individuals, families, communities and societies.

You would be correct, but not just because I have spent my adult life studying, teaching and serving in the education field.

It’s because education literally changed my life.

In the 1960s, my mother was a single parent to three young children — my two younger sisters and me. Divorced and without a high school diploma, she had worked as a migrant farm worker, hotel maid and seamstress in California.

At times, when things got hard, we would live a week or two in a hotel room or the home of a family member or friend. Eventually, we went on to rent a home in East Los Angeles — a small place, but one all our own.

Faced with few options, Mom decided to go back to school. I was too young to comprehend the reasons at the time, but I came to understand that she wanted a better life for herself and for us, and that she wanted the sense of pride and accomplishment that came with pursuing an education.

So pursue she did. She always loved children, so she ran a day care, keeping 16 kids in our home during the day, and at night, she went back to school. First, she got her GED, and then she earned a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona. At age 40, with her credential in hand, she became a kindergarten teacher.

Dean Petersen-MomAnd our lives were never the same.

But beyond the career success that came to her and her children, Mom achieved the immeasurable accomplishment of standing on her own two feet and doing what she wanted to do for her family. She was able, in a sense, to command her own destiny.

That’s what education provides.

We often think of education as a formal process, a throughput to learn particular things and achieve a particular degree or credential. That formal process is valuable, and my education colleagues and I work hard to prepare students to shape that process in meaningful ways.

But I like to define education a little more broadly. In its best and broadest sense, education is the exposure to different ideas, different habits, different cultures, different thought processes and different disciplines. It happens in PK-12 schools, colleges, internships, apprenticeships, military training, technical education and professional development. It happens across kitchen tables, in conference rooms, on athletic fields and in ordinary conversations. At its best, education is the practice of learning and growing — and a process that never ends.

The pursuit of education enhances a person’s capacity and dignity. Education develops who you are, how you relate to other people and how you make decisions in a complex, integrated world. It also shapes how you see yourself. It did for my mother, for my sisters and me, and for everyone who actively engages with education.

The mission of educators — teachers, counselors, administrators, all of us — is to enhance the intellectual, emotional and social capacity of people. As that takes place, not only individuals but also entire families and communities are transformed.

Because of Mom’s experience, it wasn’t a question of whether or not we would go to college; it was an expectation. And that expectation was handed down to my two sons, who are both college graduates. My older son is teaching for Teach for America at a Title 1 school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and my younger son is following his dream of being a major league baseball player, having been drafted by the Los Angeles Angels after graduating. The capacity of the Petersen family is forever changed because of the actions of my Mom.

The impact of education is also seen in communities. Research shows that there is a significant relationship between the educational level of a community and other factors such as economic status, the quality of schools and public services, and crime rates. When individuals are educated, the capacity of their communities is also enhanced. Education is the game changer.

That reality is one of the reasons I traveled across the country to become founding dean of the Eugene T. Moore School of Education. An important part of our mission is to partner with underserved schools and communities in South Carolina to create sustainable, thoughtful methods for enhancing capacity. We have a very generous benefactor who shares this vision, along with alumni, donors and friends who recognize the need for quality education in communities where capacity may be limited due to location, poverty, violence, economics or other factors.  Our faculty, staff and students realize that through their abilities, they play a vital role in shaping South Carolina’s educational future.

I am excited to be a part of the Clemson family, one that embraces educational excellence and is dedicated to making a difference in the Palmetto State, the nation and the world. Clemson has the people, ability and focus to move the needle in a positive direction as it relates to education — from pre-K through college and in communities, here and everywhere. I am looking forward to a continued partnership with my colleagues to engage that work.

As we do that, more children will have a life-changing experience and the opportunity for immeasurable accomplishments through education, just like Mom.

Call Me MISTER


CMM-graduation3

Listen to the MISTERs sing “One MISTER”:

Providing positive role models in classrooms and communities

TEACHING ELEMENTARY SCHOOL was not the future that Daniel Spencer ’09 envisioned as a high school senior in Swansea, South Carolina. With two brothers having dropped out of high school (one of whom served prison time) and parents who didn’t go to college, postsecondary education wasn’t even on his radar — even though he was in the top 10 percent of his graduating class.

Daniel Spencer_042correctFortunately, he decided at the last minute to apply to Coastal Carolina University and chose elementary education as his major.

“I didn’t have a clue,” Spencer said. “I thought, ‘Well, I passed elementary school. I should be able to teach it!’”

When Spencer’s English professor learned about his major, he told him about Call Me MISTER®, a program started at Clemson to encourage and place African-American male teachers in South Carolina’s public elementary school classrooms. He advised Spencer to transfer to Clemson to be a part of the program. The rest, he says, is history.

“From the first day, Call Me MISTER changed what I thought would be easy into a lifetime challenge of working with people and shaping the lives of youth,” Spencer said.

MEETING THE CHALLENGE

This was a challenge observed 15 years ago by Clemson University as well as Benedict College, Claflin University and Morris College, three historically black institutions in the state.

“We found that there were more black men in jail than were sleeping in the dormitories of the colleges in our state,” said Roy Jones, Call Me MISTER director and a faculty member at Clemson’s Eugene T. Moore School of Education. “There were more black men in prisons than were teaching in our state, especially in elementary education. That we saw as a problem.”

And, Jones added, in a state that is one-third African-American and where young black males were being expelled, referred to discipline and dropping out of school at higher rates than any gender or ethnic group, fewer than one percent of the state’s teaching workforce were African-American males.

Leaders at the four institutions saw a connection between those figures. They determined that if you could increase the number of African-American males in the classroom, perhaps there would be more avenues for understanding and tackling the challenges that confront young black boys during their formative years.

“We got together and said, ‘We can do something about this,’” Jones said.

And Call Me MISTER was born.

Clemson — along with Benedict, Claflin and Morris — started Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) in 2000. Clemson provided fundraising and program support, while the remaining three colleges carried out the program on their campuses.

Housed in the Eugene T. Moore School of Education at Clemson, Call Me MISTER combines teacher education with co-curricular programs such as retreats, seminars, academic support, mentoring, a summer institute, internships and volunteer opportunities. Participants, known as MISTERs, also live and study together as cohorts and receive tuition assistance through loan forgiveness programs as well as help with job placement.

Since its inception, the program has grown to 19 colleges/universities in South Carolina, including Clemson and Coastal Carolina. That number also includes several two-year community and technical colleges, a move made to provide greater opportunity and access to the program.

As a result of these efforts, there has been a 75 percent increase in the number of African-American males teaching in South Carolina’s public elementary schools. Of the 150 students who have completed the Call Me MISTER program in the Palmetto State, 100 percent of them remain in the education field.

Understanding that the issue is not South Carolina’s alone — that nationally, the number of male teachers is at a 40-year low, and that African-American males comprise less than 2 percent of the teaching workforce — Call Me MISTER has expanded to include 13 colleges in Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia and the District of Columbia. Including graduates and current students, approximately 425 participants are in the program nationwide.

IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS

CMM-summer1Since the program’s inception, Call Me MISTER leaders have found that its purpose is being fulfilled: more African-American males are entering elementary classrooms and more African-American children — especially boys — are seeing them as positive role models.

“There’s no doubt about what it means for so many kids to see an African-American male in a position of authority where he is also nurturing, where he is also loving and where he is also mentoring,” said Winston Holton, who leads Clemson’s Call Me MISTER cohort. “Our MISTERs are filling an important void.”

But the program is doing something more — it is exacting a powerful personal influence that transcends race, gender and socioeconomics.

“I believe that Call Me MISTER is making up the difference between what’s not happening in our homes, schools and communities and what needs to happen — and that is the fostering of healthy relationships,” Holton said.

“We don’t have healthy relationships across too many lines,” Holton continued. “You see this playing out every day in schools and playgrounds across South Carolina — and in teacher’s lounges, in businesses, in families, in neighborhoods, everywhere.”

From day one, Call Me MISTER encourages — even requires — its students to pursue healthy relationships, Holton said. Through an intentional yet organic process, MISTERs learn to understand and articulate their life stories and hear each other’s stories with empathy and understanding — and this skill makes all the difference when they enter the classroom and community as teachers.

“The result is that MISTERs have the capacity to empathize with their students, parents, fellow teachers and community members just as they, themselves, have experienced empathy,” Holton said. “They are able to see through the differences, even the maladies, and really see another’s humanity. That’s how learning happens and how students, schools and communities are elevated.”

“It’s all about relationships,” Holton summarized.

I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Countless young people have been influenced by their relationships with Daniel Spencer, including his niece and nephew, the children of his formerly incarcerated brother.

“I was trying to help raise them, and I realized through Call Me MISTER that I wasn’t teaching them; I was just telling them what to do,” Spencer said. “Listening to the MISTERs and learning from them taught me that I can do things differently — and that I can make a difference.”

 

Spencer’s niece and nephew, now ages 15 and 16, live with him in Seneca — happily adjusted and involved in school and community activities.

Spencer is also making a difference in his classroom at Blue Ridge Elementary, a Title 1 school with a high percentage of children from low-income families. He meets with each child individually and sets goals for the year, based not only on test scores but also the child’s own aspirations. And he holds them accountable to those goals, meeting with them throughout the year.

“I get to know all the kids and strive to meet everyone where they are,” Spencer said. “But I’ve gotten past the ‘I’m here for them to like me’ thing because at the end of the day, I know that they are going to love me — because they respect me, and they know I believe in them.”

What results from this exchange of respect, caring and expectation is academic progress. “The kids are exceeding their own expectations, which translates into authentic learning,” Spencer said.

SPIRIT OF HOPE FOR CHANGE

It is clear that authentic learning is needed for South Carolina’s children. The Palmetto State ranks 43rd in education, according to the 2014 Kids Count Profile, with 72 percent of South Carolina’s fourth graders lacking proficiency in reading, and 69 percent of eighth graders identified as below proficiency in math. Twenty-eight percent of high school students aren’t graduating on time, if at all.

The same report ranks South Carolina 44th in economic well-being and child health — both factors that affect children’s performance in school.

The statistics grow more dire in underserved schools and communities, where employment and other opportunities have increasingly diminished, says Roy Jones.

With these factors in mind, Jones and his colleagues focus on recruiting MISTERs from underserved areas and encouraging them to return to their communities or others with similar challenges.

“Call Me MISTER teachers are at the cutting edge of a new crusade — to ensure quality education in underserved areas by creating a pool of talented teachers who are fiercely loyal to their schools and communities,” Jones said. “Such teachers embody the spirit of hope for change.”

I WANT TO SEE THESE KIDS GROW UP

CMM-Spencerclass1“Fiercely loyal” could be used to describe Daniel Spencer. Since he started his career at Blue Ridge, he has been offered many opportunities to teach in other school districts, but he is dedicated to remaining at the school and in the community where he has served as a volunteer since his days as a Clemson student.

“The first kids I mentored when they were in the fourth grade are now in the 11th grade,” he said. “I want to see these kids grow up.”

In addition to teaching, Spencer coaches high school basketball and middle school football in Seneca, attends his students’ extracurricular activities, holds free basketball clinics and workouts at Blue Ridge during the summer, and takes students to events such as Clemson’s spring football scrimmage, which many of them have never attended even though they live less than 10 miles away. When he greets former students or players in the grocery store or at school events, they avoid him if their grades aren’t up to par, because they know he’ll ask. “I love being there and talking to the kids because the more they see positive people and consistently have positive people talking to them, the better they are going to do,” he said.

THE INTANGIBLE ‘MORE’

What is it about Call Me MISTER that inspires such dedication and selflessness? If you talk to anyone associated with the program, you’ll find that it’s because it’s more than a program — it’s a lifestyle, a way of being.

The intangible “more” begins with the name of the program. The brainchild of Call Me MISTER founding director Tom Parks, the name is not only an acronym but also a tribute to a famous line by Virgil Tibbs (played by Sidney Poitier) in the 1967 movie “In the Heat of the Night.”

While investigating a murder investigation in a small Mississippi town, Tibbs, an African-American detective from Philadelphia, is asked by the racist sheriff what people in his hometown police force call him. With dignity and assertiveness, Tibbs responds, “They call me ‘Mister Tibbs!’”

It is a line that inspires, even demands, respect.

Respect is a cornerstone of Call Me MISTER, one that is seen as MISTERs receive the program’s signature black blazer upon graduation — and in the way MISTERs refer to each other as “Mister” in formal Call Me MISTER settings.

“Ultimately, our hope is for each MISTER to be self-assured and know himself, and to appreciate and understand the value of building relationships across traditional lines,” Holton said.

Other Call Me MISTER foundational concepts include ambassadorship, stewardship, personal growth and teacher efficacy. “And all of these things together pour into the most important tenet, servant-leadership,” which Holton describes as “living for more than yourself.”

Perhaps no one embodies servant-leadership more than Jeff Davis, former field director for Call Me MISTER, current assistant athletic director of football player relations, and 2001 recipient of Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life award.

All MISTERs continue to be challenged each time they recite the vision statement Davis penned, which includes the line, “A title is only important if one’s character and integrity dictate its use.”

The single MISTER who rises to that challenge most valiantly receives the Jeff Davis Spirit Award, one of the most coveted honors bestowed annually upon a MISTER.

According to Clemson junior Michael Miller, a MISTER from Orangeburg and 2014 recipient of the Jeff Davis Spirit Award, servant-leadership has been the key to his Call Me MISTER education.

“My viewpoint about education has changed from ‘What can I tell you or dictate to you?’ to ‘What can I do for you?’” he said.

“I want to be an educator rather than a teacher,” he continued. “A teacher delivers content, and that is important. The word ‘educator’ comes from the Latin word educe, which means to draw from within. That’s what I try to do with my students — to pull out what is already within them. Call Me MISTER has taught me how to do that.”

Melanie Kieve is the public information director for the College of Health, Education, and Human Development and the Eugene T. Moore School of Education.

To learn more about Call Me MISTER director Roy Jones, click here.

University/military partnership benefits both

Field Scenario

Field Scenario

Units such as the U.S. Navy Reserve medical team that MaryBeth Hendricks ’95, M ’96 helps lead are the first responders for injured service men and women on the field of battle. When Hendricks’ team began envisioning what kind of training would provide the best preparation, what came to mind was the kind of training she received at Clemson, and her experience in the School of Nursing’s Clinical Lab and Resource Center. The center’s state-of-the-art learning environment closely simulates real-life experiences using technologically advanced mannequins that can be programmed to realistically mimic the symptoms of almost any health problem.

Hendricks, a nurse practitioner who received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson, and her team worked with assistant professor Tracy Fasolino to design a five-hour simulation session that, with the assistance of a number of nursing faculty, could be completed during scheduled drill weekends. The training took place in the fall, with scenarios ranging from a traumatic amputation to a cardiac event.

Collaboration with the military is nothing new for Clemson. Faculty from the Eugene T. Moore School of Education have been working with the S.C. Army National Guard in a decade-long partnership that has provided a convenient high-tech facility for weekend Guard training and education. The facility, which includes two-way interactive videoconferencing capabilities, also is used for University programs and classes, as well as for training more than 3,500 teachers in the statewide Reading Recovery Program that improves children’s literacy skills.