Eleven young men are in town this week getting a firsthand look at life on a college campus as well as an introduction to the education profession.

This year marks Georgia College’s fifth annual Rising M.i.S.T.E.R. (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role models) Academy, which is an extension of the college’s Call Me M.i.S.T.E.R. program. Minority males are very underrepresented in the teaching profession, so Call Me M.i.S.T.E.R. was created to provide scholarship and mentoring opportunities aimed at encouraging them toward becoming career educators. The summer academy works to create a pipeline to the college program by welcoming high school minority males onto the GC campus for a weeklong exposure to college life and teaching.

One recent change to the summer academy puts the students living in Georgia College dorms for the week. That’s been happening for three years now, which has opened up the program to applicants from further out. All 11 of this year’s attendees hail from either Johnson or Henry counties. Jaheim Carey, a rising senior from Johnson County, has attended the summer academy all through high school and said another change has taken place this year.

“This year they’ve changed it up on us,” Carey said. “We’ve got to teach kids this time around instead of teaching each other, so I think that will make the experience better.”

In the past, summer M.i.S.T.E.R.s developed lesson plans throughout the week and taught their peers on Friday, but this year the program has partnered with Nurturing Minds, a local tutoring program, to create a more realistic classroom experience. Now the high schoolers will teach first through eighth-graders, a challenge that could separate the future teachers from those opting for a different career path. 

Aside from creating their own lesson plans and teaching them to younger students, Rising M.i.S.T.E.R.s are taking part in a number of other activities this week like taking campus tours, attending training, and listening to panels of education professionals. 

This year marks rising Henry County senior Mark Rayford’s first at the Rising M.i.S.T.E.R. Academy. He found his way there thanks to his mother who was researching scholarship opportunities. Rayford is still undecided on whether he will attend Georgia College or if he’ll pursue a career in education as he is thinking about opening his own clothing/shoe store, but he has enjoyed his time at the program.

“I was welcomed with open arms,” he said. “[Call Me M.i.S.T.E.R. director] Dr. (Emmanuel) Little and this group of guys are really good, and the dorms we’re staying in are very nice. I’m learning a lot about the teaching profession.”

Academy coordinator Jerome Brown (GC Class of 2018) was a M.i.S.T.E.R. himself in college, and currently holds the position of algebra teacher at nearby Wilkinson County High School. He’s leading the young men around campus to their different activities including Wednesday’s education professionals panel where the students got to ask questions to five school administrators. 

“Aside from Dr. Sallad (Runee, Georgia College Early College director), the panel is made up of black males in higher level positions in education,” Brown said. “That gives them the opportunity to see role models that show them they’re capable of reaching similar positions. I think it's very important for these guys to see what teachers actually do — the planning and the implementation. They get to see that process. Their teachers aren’t coming in every day and just winging it. There’s work that has to go into it before you can teach.”

Like Rayford, Carey doesn’t know yet whether he wants to enter the education field for sure, but he does believe the Rising M.i.S.T.E.R. Academy should be taken advantage of by anyone weighing whether or not to attend.

“I just like the experience,” Carey said. “I get to see what it’s like living on a college campus. I think that anybody who gets the opportunity to come, they need to come.” 

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