Schools Seek a Few Good Men


Standing outside Tillman Hall, which black students first entered in 1963 after a long integration struggle, Watkins adds, "The opportunity it provides you, to impact the future as far as children are concerned, is wonderful."

Daniel Spencer, 21, a junior, says that by teaching he will show, "With an education you can do anything; and for children who want to get out of poverty, they can get an education and do that."

At Clemson and on nine other campuses, there are 150 people now in "Call Me Mister" who, when they graduate, will double the number of African-American male teachers in the state.

But earlier recruits to the program are already transforming classrooms -- like Zeb Dinkins, 24, in his second year of teaching social studies to fifth graders at Welcome Elementary School in Greenville.

On this morning, dressed in jacket and tie, Dinkins is giving an overview to his 20 students of the scope of World War II. There are no books open in front of the bright, engaged faces. Instead, Dinkins leads the class in a rap song he has written. The students sing along, every one.

Dinkins has clearly reached his students and helped them, with rap, embrace the subject. And later, they easily answer every quiz question about the war correctly.

Dinkins hasn't thought about his salary this morning, or how much more the workers at Greenville's new BMW and Michelin corporation factories are making.

"When I see their eyes," Dinkins says, "I see they learned something new. Or if I have a child tell me, 'You did a great job today,' it keeps me motivated."

"Call Me Mister" organizers believe their program could become a model for the entire nation.

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