Men in the Classroom

By: Philip Stewart Email
By: Philip Stewart Email

May 22, 2007

Men in the classroom: They are few and far between, especially in elementary schools.

For years it's been a female-dominated profession. But one teacher in Albemarle County is breaking the stereotype.

James "J" Moyer is one of a very small group of people in his line of work.

"You could be like one of two, or one of three," said Moyer, who is an elementary school teacher.

He is the exception to the rule in his classroom at Stone-Robinson Elementary. He teaches Kindergarten and First grade.

"A typical day I would say is a madhouse- but it's not. But it's controlled chaos," Moyer laughed.

Moyer has been teaching for nine years now. Before that he was a guidance counselor. That was when he thought he could do more good.

"I realized as a guidance counselor I was playing catch up, because by the time I saw a lot of the kids there were already difficulties at home and in school," he said.

So Moyer went back to school and got his teaching degree, with the intention of teaching some of the youngest kids in classrooms.

"It gives me a chance, and other teachers a chance, before they develop problems and to really help them feel confident about themselves," he said.

But Moyer really is an exception to the rule. According to the National Education Association, just 9% of elementary school teachers are men. That number has fallen regularly for the past 25 years.

But part of the trick to getting more men interested in teaching young students, might have to do with breaking stereotypes. For years teaching has often been though of as a woman's profession.

Moyer himself has dealt with some of those ideas personally.

"I've had some parents who wanted to meet me first, and I've had a few eyebrows raised, you're child has a male teacher? You know, then they ask and then they seem to be happy with it."

Salary is another factor. Teachers tend to make less compared to other professions. And according to the NEA many men don't see teaching as a lucrative way to provide for their families.

But there are groups out there trying to change things. A program at Clemson University is aimed at recruiting male teachers. And MenTeach is another group aimed at getting more men interested in the field. Each trying to show student teachers that elementary school is a lot more than recess and nap time.

" As new (teaching) students go through their student teaching orientations they are seeing that (elementary education) is academically based and it's very structured," said Moyer.

But for teachers like Moyer, he doesn't need anymore convincing. He calls his job at Stone Robinson his third career, but doesn't see a fourth on the horizon anytime soon.

"This is the absolute most rewarding job you're ever gonna have," Moyer said. "It's been that way for me."

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