Credit: Kennesaw State University

Credit: Kennesaw State University

Growing up in Clearwater, Florida, Tristan Glenn encountered only a few teachers of color. In college at Bethune-Cookman University, he joined a program designed to attract, develop and retain males of color into special education. After completing his degree, he went back to his neighborhood classrooms to change that imbalance.

I know the power of having teachers of color, but I felt the difference I was making was contained primarily to the four walls of my classroom,” he said. “I wanted to do my part to increase the numbers of males of color who can provide future students the things that were provided for me.”

Glenn, now an associate professor of special education at Kennesaw State, is making his goal a reality by leading the university’s Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) program. The outreach was created at Clemson University in 2000 as a response to statistics that show males of color making up just 2% of the workforce in elementary and high schools.

After a lengthy review process, Kennesaw’s Bagwell College of Education was granted a site license to launch the program in the metro area with the goal of developing a diverse teaching force.

“There are generations of students who have traversed their entire learning experience without having a male teacher of color,” said Glenn. “So when this program came about, I knew I wanted to commit my efforts to building it here so I can provide a similar learning experience for future educators.”

Partnerships for training and financial support are a key component of the program, and Glenn has already established job placement connections with schools in Marietta, Cobb, Fulton, Cherokee, DeKalb and Atlanta. A $25,000 gift from Georgia Power is helping to offset expenses.

“One of the major barriers to college for historically marginalized students is the cost,” said Glenn. “We aim to reduce that barrier by providing tuition and books assistance throughout the process.”

Glenn is set to launch the program in August and is actively recruiting the initial cohort.

“We plan to take as many students as possible based on funding, but to begin we can support five new students,” he said. “We have a partnership with the African American Male Initiative at Kennesaw, and we’re recruiting at local school districts across the state.”

Along with traditional coursework, the program includes a servant/leadership curriculum with development seminars, speakers and mentor relationships. Those elements are what inspired Glenn to bring the program to KSU.

“My own experiences are what endear me to this program,” he said. “They’re the reasons that got me into what is approaching a 20-year career as an educator.”

Information about the Call Me MISTER program is online at

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