Jordan Guillory learned a lot about himself on his journey to becoming an educator and he leaves Northwestern State University with a desire to improve upon himself, build community and make a positive impact on his students.
Guillory is NSU’s first graduate of the Call Me MISTER program, an initiative to recruit African American males to become teachers and mentors at low-performing schools. MISTER is an acronym for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models. As a Call Me MISTER campus, NSU is part of a highly acclaimed recruitment and support program that includes a national network of universities.
Prospective Misters must be a minority male and come from an underserved, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and/or educationally at-risk community. They must major in early childhood education, elementary education, health and physical education or music education and demonstrate a record of high scholastic achievement and participation in extra-curricular and community service activities.
Guillory graduated from Northwest High School in Opelousas in 2019. He originally majored in secondary math education at NSU but credited Jessie Church, at the time a clinical instructor at NSU, with steering him toward elementary education.
“I was helping with the first Educators Rising conference we had on campus,” he said. “She said, ‘You do so well with younger kids.’” He changed his major to elementary education in the spring of 2020.
Guillory first became aware of the Call Me MISTER program through a high school mentor acquainted with Ramona Wynder, who launched Call Me MISTER at NSU in 2019. Guillory was admitted to the program and arrived at NSU with enough dual enrollment credits to allow him to go straight into the education curriculum, doing observation hours at elementary, middle and high school classes before the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered schools.
“That experience will tell you, ‘Yes, I want to be a teacher,” he said. “My being exposed to those classes helped me decide to go forward. And I’m glad I had that first semester because the next semester everything was virtual. Our involvement with the kids was so abbreviated. I’m upbeat. I like to have fun. You can’t do that with high schoolers. It made me reflect on what I wanted to be as a teacher.”
While completing his residency with third graders at Weaver Elementary in Natchitoches he realized how much COVID affected the kids and their literacy skills, so his goal was to get them to the proper reading level for the end of third grade. Although balancing the residency, his coursework and an extra job was a challenge, it was also rewarding.
“In college, you need to make a community out of who you meet. Be open-minded about what is asked of you. A lot of things seem little but it’s a big thing. Working on a school supply drive opened my eyes up to poverty and what I can do personally to help my students. You have to show compassion to the school and the organization. I loved every minute of it.”
Black men make up only two percent of America’s public schools. Misters are encouraged to be an example and expose youth to Black males in education.
“In the Mister program, they teach us to take on leadership roles and gave us the opportunity to take on leadership roles. Being in the classroom gives you an opportunity to put someone where you can learn to be a leader. Through triumphs and errors, you represent through your actions.
“When I went to college, my mom said, ‘Take advantage of anything that is offered, scholarships, volunteering. Take all you can get and put it back into what you do as a teacher and what you do for your community.’”
At NSU, Guillory was an honor student, a Resident Advisor and worked with Louisiana Gear Up and Educators Rising, activities that helped him learn time management. With his graduation set for May 10, he presented his final portfolio this week and is waiting for the word on where he will be teaching this fall.
“I love talking about teaching. I’m a good teacher and hope to be an excellent teacher in five years and see a lot of growth,” he said. “We are all just ready to get into the classroom.”
Applications for Call me MISTER are reviewed on a competitive basis each spring for consideration for cohorts that will begin each fall semester. Preference is given to graduating high school seniors; two-year community college transfers; and first-year college freshmen. Eligible candidates are selected based on their potential for teaching and their motivation for participation in the program. Information on Call Me MISTER at NSU is available athttps://www.nsula.edu/education/callmemister/.
NSU’s spring commencement will take place in three ceremonies May 10-11. Information on commencement is available at https://www.nsula.edu/commencement/.