A group of Clemson University students in the national Call Me MISTER program spent their summer vacations helping elementary school students improve their reading abilities and enjoy a camp experience they might not have otherwise had.
The six “MISTERs” participated as mentors and teachers’ aides during the six-week Camp iRock at three elementary schools in Pickens County: West End in Easley, Chastain Road in Liberty and Pickens Elementary in the city of Pickens.
Clemson’s Call Me MISTER field coordinator Winston Holton told South Carolina Radio Network that Camp iRock is a free summer camp for underserved second- to fourth-graders who read below grade level. “They’re engaged in activities that led to mentoring, led to academic development led to dispositional development,” he said.
The camp is operated through a partnership between the Pickens County School District, the United Way of Pickens County and the Pickens County YMCA.
Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) was created to increase the pool of available teachers from broader, more diverse backgrounds, particularly among the state’s lowest-performing elementary schools. MISTERs are all education majors who plan to become teachers in socio-economically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities upon graduation.
Holton said that the summer camp is a component of the program’s goal. “Part of our overall training mechanism for Call Me MISTER and Camp iRock is a critical piece of that,” he said.
Holton said that participating in programs like Camp iRock gives the MISTERs a taste for what it’s like to work from the front of the class experience that augments and undergirds what’s being learned during their programs of study at Clemson.