Claflin School of Education: Developing Black Male Visionary Educators
This post is part of AACTE’s Black History Month 2022 Blog series.
Claflin University is pleased to have been invited by AACTE to help celebrate Black History Month. Founded in 1869, primarily to educate freed slaves, Claflin was the first historically Black college/University (HBCU) in South Carolina to open its doors to all people – regardless of race, class, gender, and/or any of the other social constructs that have been divisive across many components of society. For over 150 years, Claflin has remained committed to her mission, one in which diversity and inclusion are central to the development of visionary leaders and scholars in their chosen fields of study. At Claflin, our belief is that our graduates will make their marks on the world by leading innovative changes in various industries and professions across the globe.
Claflin University is located in the small city of Orangeburg, South Carolina and is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. It is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and approved by the University Senate of the United Methodist Church. Among her numerous accolades, Claflin is ranked the #1 HBCU in the state, and for its 11th consecutive year, the University is in U.S. News & World Report’s “Top 10 of the Nation’s Best HBCUs.” As the oldest HBCU in the state of South Carolina, Claflin University’s commitment to teacher eucation has been consistently strong since its founding. She has produced teachers, principals, superintendents, and numerous other educational professionals who have made significant contributions to the myriad classrooms and other educational contexts within the state of SC and indeed across the United States and the world at large.
During its most recent accreditation process, Claflin University’s School of Education programs were endorsed by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and received the highly acclaimed and nationally-coveted 2021 Frank Murray Leadership Recognition for Continuous Improvement Award. Among the 26 education preparation providers across 17 states and the United Arab Emirates, Claflin’s teacher education programs received no areas for improvement nor any stipulations in the quality of its preparation or data trends. Of its 2021 class, two institutions in South Carolina were recipients of this high honor; Claflin University was the state’s only HBCU. Speaking of this milestone, dean of the School of Education, Anthony A. Pittman, said, “This achievement is significant for Claflin University, because this national endorsement by CAEP is the gold seal of approval for all of our teacher education programs. This accomplishment speaks well of our institution’s commitment to high quality that is second to none. It also highlights how dedicated our faculty, staff, students, and graduates are to continuous improvement and to an authentic culture of assessment.”
In honor of this special month, Claflin’s School of Education spotlights another of its highly profiled points of pride, our Call Me MISTER Program. The Call Me MISTER® (acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) Program at Claflin University, in partnership with Clemson University is designed to increase the cadre of available teachers from a diverse background, particularly among South Carolina’s underperforming elementary schools. Claflin University’s cohort, which is one of 40 across the nation, continues to contribute to the talent pool of effective educators and has been doing so since its inception as one of the inaugural participating universities in 2000.
A proud graduate of the Call Me MiSTER program, Anthony Broughton, in addition to serving as interim department chairperson, coordinates the Claflin University Call Me MISTER Program. He says, “My teaching degree was made possible with the financial support and mentorship of the Call Me MISTER program. I often harken back on how my music teacher and mentor, Mack Guice, II inspired me to enter the teaching profession. I was always captivated by his passion, innovative pedagogical approaches, and the rapport he built with his students as a Black male educator.”
Among its many outcomes, The Call Me MiSTER Program cultivates within its members the appropriate dispositions that will cause them to thrive in the education profession. Referencing its immediate impact upon his attitude about teaching, Broughton stated, “I perceive this role as my sacred duty to not only bear the torch passed down by our ancestors, but to use my torch to ignite the passion of our future educators.” At one of its weekly meetings that happened to convene on Valentine’s Day, several of the MiSTERs utilized various educational theorists to explain their passion for teaching, the importance of self-care, and of course caring for others, especially those for whom they will have responsibilities as educators. They utilize their time with each other productively, discussing relevant educational topics and issues, readings and current events in the news that hold intriguing implications for policies and procedures. “I was inspired by the narratives that our gentleman shared with one another. They spoke freely about their successes, their perceived opportunities for growth, and their fellowship outside of the classroom context,” said Pittman. The group bantered a bit about a meal that they recently enjoyed at a local pizzeria.
Call Me MISTER’s cohort model provides its participants with the social and cultural support needed to thrive as pre-service educators, whether academically and/or personally. In addition to being guided by a number of Black male educators within their immediate surroundings in the Claflin University School of Education alone, members also witness positive exposure to high profile role models across the campus. Among these is Dwaun J. Warmack, the ninth president and CEO of Claflin. A staunch supporter of the program, Warmack has led numerous workshops and ceremonies with males across the campus related to tying neck and bowties. Few campuses can boast of such occasions to celebrate brotherhood and mentorship.
Graduates from Claflin University’s Call Me MISTER program are among numerous award winning educators. Arguably, the most well-known is “The Handshake Guy,” MISTER Barry White, who went viral for his innovative pedagogical approaches to connecting with each of his students, having co-created unique handshakes with each pupil under his tutelage. Other prominently known are graduates like MISTER Hayward Jean, who is currently serving in the Orangeburg County School District Office. Broughton notes that the foregoing achievements speak to the power of the Call Me MISTER’s motto, “Teamwork makes the dream work,” a concept that derives from the African concept of Ubuntu, “I am because we are.”
Join AACTE in celebrating Black History Month by sharing your favorite resources for teaching Black history at the Ed Prep or PK-12 level. AACTE will compile this shared knowledge as a toolkit for teaching Black history every month of the year. Please take a moment to share your resources.
Anthony A. Pittman is dean, School of Education and Anthony Broughton associate professor, interim department chairperson, and site coordinator for Call Me MiSTER.