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HGTC celebrates 50 years of graduations with Call Me MISTER graduates

HGTC graduates first Call Me MISTER class

William Wallace and Tyler Bealmer were the first two HGTC students to graduate from the Call Me MISTER Program, which recruits male teachers for elementary schools.
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William Wallace and Tyler Bealmer were the first two HGTC students to graduate from the Call Me MISTER Program, which recruits male teachers for elementary schools.

Even after 50 years of graduations, Horry Georgetown Technical College still has some firsts.

This year, HGTC is graduating its very first Call Me MISTER class. Tyler Bealmer and William Wallace both earned their Associate of Arts in Education degree through the Call Me MISTER program and will continue their teaching path at Coastal Carolina University in the fall.

“It’s exciting and it shows that the program is not only rewarding, but that it works,” said T’Mars McCallum, associate professor of information technologies at HGTC.

To apply for HGTC’s Call Me MISTER Program, visit their website. Applications can be found online.

The Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) Program works to increase the pool of qualified teachers from more diverse backgrounds, especially for elementary schools in South Carolina’s poorest districts. The program kicked off statewide in 2000 and has graduated more than 150 black male teachers.

Bealmer, who is white, was skeptical of applying to the program since its focus is on black men. His advisor told him to apply anyway, and a short while later Bealmer was walking across the stage at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center with his degree in hand.

He said the program taught him many things – how to carry himself, how to act in public, etc. – but the best lesson?

“Teaching is about the relationships you build with students, not just the materials you teach them,” Bealmer, 23, said.

McCallum, who jump-started HGTC’s program in 2015, said the leadership program aims to find aspiring teachers from disadvantaged and under-served communities and mold them into elite educators. Having an African-American male in the classroom isn’t just good for the students; it’s also good for the entire school.

“It helps press upon the students the importance of getting an education, and to be able to see someone who looks like them succeed is vital,” MCCallum said.

Wallace, 21, said he feels like he belongs with the other MISTER participants, even when he switched from his original major of culinary arts. Teaching is something he’s passionate about, and the MISTER program allows him to encourage students who look – and maybe think – like him.

“It just shows these students that there are more opportunities for them, and that learning is something they should aspire to,” he said.

Wallace said his goal is to eventually teach at The Academy for Technology and Academics – to the delight of his mother, Chantel Guy. She said she encouraged him into teaching and has supported him every day since.

Seeing him walk across the stage Tuesday night was an important step, she added.

“I’m so excited,” Guy said. “I’m just so proud, and he’s just such a good fit for teaching.”

HGTC’s Call Me MISTER is recruiting for the Fall 2016 class and interested applicants can apply online.

To participate in Call Me MISTER, students must first go through an application and interview process. MISTERs can receive some assistance with tuition and fees, though that amount is smaller at community colleges than at four-year institutions. After two years, those students can transfer to any school with a Call Me MISTER program and join that institution’s cohort without having to reapply.

Kids in these schools need to have that mentor, someone to look up to, someone that looks like them and has had a life like them.

Chantel Guy, William Wallace’s mother

Beyond the financial benefits, Call Me MISTER enables participants to attend leadership summits, work on community service projects and better prepare for their teaching exams.

“We’re just doing our part to increase the number of minorities in the classroom, and HGTC is a good place to begin,” McCallum said.

Claire Byun: 843-626-0381, @Claire_TSN

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