Male Teachers Rare in Public Schools
Brent Wade is in his third year as a fourth grade teacher at Derby Ridge Elementary. In the classroom next door is Zac Early, it's his first year at Derby Ridge. The two men make up one-fourth of Derby Ridge's male teaching population. For many students, it's the first time they've had a male teacher.
"Some of them have only had female teachers, so it's a big shock and so they either shy away or they act out because they don't know how to handle it, but some of them, it's a welcome change," said Early, a fourth grade teacher at Derby Ridge.
At Derby Ridge Elementary there are 31 teachers, eight of are men. That's about 25% of the teaching population, which is about three times the national average. Teachers say it provides a different perspective for students when there is a male teacher.
"Especially with so many students who are only living with mom, so they don't have that exposure to a positive male role model," Early said.
Trying to get more male role models in the classroom is one of Roy Fox's goals. He's launching a new program at MU, called Men for Excellence in Elementary Teaching (MEET).
"It's not on their radar screen at all, it's not a normal thing, they don't think about it, they never think about it," Fox said.
The program offers incentives to get more men in the classroom. Fox hopes more hands on experience and a cash stipend will help more men get involved.
"Teaching jobs, entry level teaching jobs are pretty specific in what their needs are and it does have to be the best teacher, that being said, we still need more males in the classroom, that's all there is to it, that's the bottom line," Fox said.
Columbia Public Schools said it hires the best candidate for the job, no matter their background. However, they do see a need for more men.
"So, we want the best and the brightest to choose education, and when those best and brightest can replicate our communities, male, female, minorities, etc, then that's a win-win for all of us," said Mary Laffey of Columbia Public Schools.
Teachers say the program can work, but you can't always recruit great teachers.
"Teaching is a calling and you either feel it or you don't and it also becomes a mission, it's something that money's not such a big issue, you want to help kids, help them become a better person," said Brent Wade, a fourth grade teacher at Derby Ridge.
Even the program's founder says it's going to take some time.
"I think over time, once it's established, it could have an impact," Fox said.
Teachers like Early and Wade hope to make an impact now. Men who want to get involved in the program must already be certified teachers. Fox says the program is one of only a few in the country.
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