Museum tour for Misters attending the Summer Institute led by the Moton Education Director, Mr. Cainan Townsend, who was part of one of the first Call Me MISTER cohorts at Longwood.
Museum tour for Misters attending the Summer Institute led by the Moton Education Director, Mr. Cainan Townsend, who was part of one of the first Call Me MISTER cohorts at Longwood.

Hundreds of future teachers will move into Longwood this week when freshmen make their way to their residence halls for the first time.

Among them will be Jonathan Brooks, who has also been admitted into Longwood’s Call Me MISTER program, which aims to increase the reputation of minority men in Virginia’s teaching force, especially at the elementary and middle-school levels.

Brooks will pursue Elementary teacher preparation with additional Middle School Math endorsement at Longwood while also joining a corps of committed and charismatic young men in CMM who are determined to serve as models of professionalism and scholastic accomplishment in the communities in which they will eventually teach.

“Call Me MISTER’s founding was rooted in the virtual absence of minority males in the teaching force in the early grades,” according to Dr. Maurice Carter, the Director of the CMM program at Longwood. “It is at these grade levels that the importance of male role models is highest, particularly in minority communities,” added Carter.

“A great deal of research in education points to the powerful role that committed and inspirational teachers play in promoting positive outcomes for the students in their classrooms,” added Dr. David Locascio, the Associate Dean of the College of Education & Human Services at Longwood. “The research also supports a greater likelihood of these positive outcomes for minority students when at least some of the committed teachers that they encounter on their educational paths are minority individuals themselves.”  

Call Me MISTER participants at Longwood- referred to on campus as “Misters”- receive additional scholarship support while they are actively involved in the program, whether during semesters of on-campus coursework or clinical experiences in classrooms throughout the Commonwealth. Various academic support structures are also in place on campus for the Misters and these are further augmented by a strong academic focus and sense of societal mission that is shared by the all of the young men in the program. This mission and camaraderie are built, in part, through regular meetings of the participants as well as an annual Summer Institute and events scheduled through the academic year. The institute, which includes both current and past Misters as well as high school students from across Virginia who are interested in learning more about the program and its mission, is a three-day event held on the Longwood campus in July which includes a series of motivational speakers and discussions of topics such as Social Justice in Education as well as team-building activities. The institute also includes a visit to the Robert Russa Moton Civil Rights Museum adjacent to the Longwood campus in Farmville, where the museum tours are led by the Moton Education Director, Mr. Cainan Townsend, who was part of one of the first Call Me MISTER cohorts at Longwood. 

Mr. Brooks, who had already committed to Longwood when he attended his first summer institute this past summer, was impressed by the commitment to the Call ME MISTER mission by some of the younger participants this year. “There were high school students from the Tidewater region, from Cumberland, and from the greater Richmond area at the institute. We talked a lot about things like influence and empowerment and they are already starting to acknowledge and openly accept the responsibility to positively transform their communities through their presence in the classroom, even though that is 7 or 8 years in the future for them.”   

Program Director Carter offered that the program values responsibility and mutual respect and support, adding that the “great calling” in the Misters’ pledge refers to positioning themselves to pass along the motivation to achieve that they themselves are in the process of discovering. “Every year at the institute we hear the stories of young men who have come very far themselves, and it is continually inspirational for those of us who work with these young men because we recognize how inspirational these stories can be to other young people.“

“The typical teacher preparation curriculum is augmented for our Misters by collaborative work with regional youth mentoring programs, leadership training, and opportunities for public speaking about the program,” stated Locascio. “The financial and academic support provides an additional incentive for these participants as does the fact that nearly all of the school divisions in Virginia are clamoring to hire our Misters after they graduate. There are profound teacher shortages throughout the state, and Elementary and Middle school, along with Special Education are areas in which the shortage is most profound. These are the majors of many of our Misters, so they are helping to directly meet the shortages. The Misters graduating from our Secondary programs are also very sought after as teachers because many of our most diverse schools are the ones most directly impacted by teacher shortages at all grade levels and in all subject areas.”    

Past and present Longwood Misters come from urban and suburban parts of Virginia as well as from smaller towns across Southside. Unlike Mr. Brooks, some Misters have completed Associate’s degrees at their local community colleges before enrolling at Longwood, and in a few cases the Misters have completed Bachelor’s degrees elsewhere and have come to Longwood for their graduate studies. Several of the program’s graduates have started Misters-in-Training programs in the middle and high schools where they teach in order to speak about the importance of the program’s mission with young men in their schools. The potential of the program is great, but many of the young men need to be convinced of the viability of careers in education.

“Even when these middle and high school students don’t immediately see themselves as potential teachers,” said Carter, “the importance of the Misters’ mission is easy to discuss with them. So few of them had many meaningful interactions with minority male teachers themselves, that they nearly all recognize the potential value of such role models.”   

Mr. Brooks agrees, pointing to the profound impact of minority teachers he had in his own K-12 experience. “It is my hope that I can inspire all of my students and plant some appropriate images of positive interaction and mutual respect across all races. I truly believe that this can change what becomes implanted in a young person’s heart.”

Through Call Me MISTER, Jonathan Brooks is committed to a teaching career and to being an agent of positive social change, ideally close to home in Hanover County. He acknowledges that young students of all races are reached every day by all types of hard-working teachers, but he believes in his own unique capacity to establish cultural relatedness and his own particular potential to serve as a role model and mentor in his school. 

The Call Me MISTER program is interested in speaking with talented and charismatic minority males who recognize the importance of positive male role models in the lives of young students. For more information about the program, the summer institute, or how to help provide scholarship support for MISTERS, contact CMM Program Director Maurice Carter at or at 434-395-2663.