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Begin With Determination  Roy Jones

Learn how one man’s work ethic created pathways for hundreds of educators to make a difference in Title I schools nationwide.

Roy Jones stands on a tree-lined sidewalk smiling with hands held together, wearing an orange button down and dark slacks.
Roy sits in a backstage video area, looking thoughtfully ahead of him. 'Watch Roy's Story' and the play symbol hover beside him. Roy sits in a backstage video area, looking thoughtfully ahead of him. 'Watch Roy's Story' and the play symbol hover beside him.



“When I left home and went to college, that’s when I learned what mentoring really meant. I found myself surrounded by the most incredible mentors — folks providing guidance both academically and personally. Now, at Clemson, we’re building mentors for the next generation of students and classrooms.”

Find your calling

The mission of the Call Me MISTER® (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) initiative is to increase the pool of available teachers from a broader, more diverse background, particularly among South Carolina’s lowest-performing elementary schools. Student participants are largely selected from underserved, socioeconomically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities. It’s a program Jones built at Clemson and the embodiment of his nearly 50-year journey to invest in next-generation student-educators.

Lead with purpose

Jones started college in 1968 — a time of great social upheaval that also brought unprecedented opportunities for students like him. Now executive director of Clemson’s Call Me MISTER® educational mentoring program, Jones has taken those early experiences as part of a cohort of young Black and brown first-generation college students and turned it into a growing educational mentorship program unlike anything else in the country.

More than 50% of all accredited teacher education programs in South Carolina are Call Me MISTER®-affiliated institutions.
Roy stands smiling on a sidewalk lined by bright colored trees in fall, wearing a black suit and orange tie.
Roy sits at a wood table and talks with his colleague Mark. Both men wear light blue Call Me MISTER® button downs.

Pursue uncharted territory

Jones’ mother and father never finished high school. And even though the house Jones grew up in was located directly across the street from a private liberal arts college, no one in his family had ever actually stepped foot on a college campus until the day they arrived at the University of Massachusetts for his freshman year. He earned his college degree — the first of three — in education and found himself inspired to go even further.

Roy walks along the sidewalk in front of Holtzendorff Hall talking with his Call Me MISTER® colleague, Mark.

“Find your calling. I found it by learning how to work with people and sorting out what was important. I had to find my calling, and I found it in education.”

Degree Programs
Nationally Recognized
Education Programs

Call Me MISTER® is a nationally recognized program that has expanded to nine other states in addition to South Carolina since 2004.

Student Success

Clemson University was recognized by NASPA’s Center for First-Generation Student Success as a First Forward Institution through the work of the Clemson FIRST Program, designed to support first-generation college students.

Clemson FIRST
Come from S.C.
Public Schools

90% of Clemson’s Call Me MISTER® students come from South Carolina public schools, and 85 percent of graduates are still teaching in them more than a decade later, often in Title 1 schools.

Invest in the future

Jones earned his Bachelor of Arts in education in 1972 from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Five years later, in 1977, he was awarded a Master of Arts in educational psychology from Atlanta University. And by 1981, he had his Ed.D. in higher education administration from the University of Georgia. Jones relentlessly pursued his education, but as important, he actively sought out ways to translate even his earliest educational experiences as a first-generation college student into similar opportunities for those who would follow in his footsteps.

Roy sits in an academic building and talks with young men in the Call Me MISTER® program at Clemson.

“I got my master’s in educational psychology because I was disturbed by the whole notion that Black students were inferior to white students.”

Make real change

Jones secured the role of executive director for Clemson University’s Call Me MISTER® (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role-models) program in 2004. Nearly two decades later, his leadership has literally changed the face of public education for a generation of South Carolina students and beyond. Whereas at one time a South Carolina K-12 student might never have a male teacher in the classroom — much less a male teacher of color — Call Me MISTER® has graduated nearly 300 young men into the state’s classrooms.

Call Me MISTER® resulted in a 40% increase in the number of male African American teachers in S.C. public elementary schools.

“It’s important for students to have teachers who look like them, and that’s a big part of why Call Me MISTER® has resonated nationally.”

Give back to

One of the biggest successes of the Call Me MISTER® program is how true to form it has been, Jones says. MISTERs take their degrees and experiences to give back in service to the state. They are also sustaining those gifts year after year by staying in Title 1 schools with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students and the greatest need for highly qualified educators.

“What continues to blow my mind is how much the MISTERs have sustained themselves in the classroom and in the profession, supported by national and state data. I’ve got at least 85% of the MISTERs that began in 2004 up until last year still in the classroom. The other 15% — most of those are college professors or principals and assistant principals.”

Through mentorship, Roy Jones discovered what it meant to be a transformational educator, and he took that vision and grew it into one of the most renowned educational initiatives in the country.

Roy listens as his colleague Mark discusses the Call Me MISTER results posted to a decorative board in their office space.

Through mentorship, Roy Jones discovered what it meant to be a transformational educator, and he took that vision and grew it into one of the most renowned educational initiatives in the country.

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