Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children
Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

This weekend, Wheelock College will host the annual meeting of MenTeach–New England, a nonprofit clearinghouse of information on men working in education, with an emphasis on early childhood education.

The event details:

Saturday, September 27, 2014 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hawes Building – Ladd Room
Wheelock College, 43 Hawes Street, Brookline, MA

“This is our biggest meeting of the year and we invite men and women who support men in early childhood education, but also men and women from throughout New England,” the national website of MenTeach explains.

“MenTeach was started in 1979 in Minnesota, United States to increase the number of men working with young children. The organization was started because Bryan G. Nelson understood the importance of teaching and wondered, ‘If teaching is so important, then where are all the men?’”

“We’re just trying to get at the idea that we need more males in the field,” Craig Simpson explained in a recent interview. An early educator and a spokesman for MenTeach-New England, Simpson says that only 3 to 6 percent of early education teachers are men “and that’s a great inequity in a lot of ways.”

Saturday’s annual meeting is open to men and women, Simpson notes, so that everyone can be involved in creating environments that welcome both male and female early educators.

The meeting’s keynote speaker will be Leland Clarke, a Wheelock professor of education and music. He’ll speak about the importance of involving men in children’s lives and about recruitment and retention of men.

David Fernie, an early childhood education professor at Wheelock, will participate in the meeting’s panel discussion along with Brenda Powers, president of the board of the Boston Association for the Education of Young Children, and Clarence Little, the educational coordinator at the Grove Hall Child Development Center.

There will also be regional, national, and international updates on the status of men in early education. And meeting attendees will have a chance to network and participate a question and answer session.

To learn more, visit MenTeach-New England’s Facebook page. For an international perspective, go to the World Forum Foundation’s Men in Early Chidhood Education webpage.

For a first-person perspective, go the Wheelock Blog and read Theodore Kokoros’ account of being an early education teacher.

He writes in part: “I want to encourage any man who is considering going into the ECE field to go for it. Not only will you will be able to race toy cars, throw balls around, and build block towers, but you could have a truly positive impact on a young child’s life, particularly on a child who does not have any male role models. Working in ECE is about both nurturing and educating children. Having a man in the class giving children hugs, helping put band aids on booboos, and just being a nurturing figure can hopefully show boys and girls that caring about others is part of what it means to be a man.”