Black men aren't often seen teaching in elementary- and middle-school classrooms in South Carolina.

But more than 200 black male participants in the Call Me Mister program are expected to gather for a statewide summit today at the College of Charleston.

The program, an effort to address the state's critical shortage of black male teachers, offers tuition assistance and supportive services to those interested in teaching children in kindergarten through the eighth grade, director Roy Jones said. Thirteen of the state's two- and four-year higher-education institutions offer the program. The number will expand to 15 in the fall, he said.

The College of Charleston, which is hosting the summit, began offering the program in 2007. Fran Welch, dean of the college's School of Education, Health and Human Performance, said 10 students are enrolled in the program but that the college wants to boost that number to 20.

The summit will feature several sessions including "The Educational Crisis Facing Young Males of Color" by Ronald Williams, vice president of the College Board, and "Why Boys Fail: Saving Our Sons from an Educational System That's Leaving Them Behind" by author Richard Whitmire.

David Chadwell of the state Department of Education will make a presentation on single-gender education programs.

Call Me Mister was launched at Clemson University a decade ago, Jones said. The program receives $1.2 million annually from the state.

So far, 60 black men have graduated from the program and are teaching in South Carolina classrooms, and 150 are enrolled statewide, he said.

Clemson licensed and trademarked the program, which also is being offered at 13 other schools in six other states, Jones said.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491.