The school system can be a challenging yet rewarding work environment for men, who often face unique challenges with under-representation. Despite recent efforts to bridge the gap, men remain underrepresented in the education sector due to cultural, social, and political attitudes. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 77% of all public-school teachers are women, highlighting the significant disparity.
Alonzo Cruz, an MSUM early childhood education major, understands this adversity firsthand.
He is one of the few male students within the education program; in many of his classes, only one or two of his classmates are men. Despite being underrepresented, Alonzo feels welcomed and encouraged to be a part of the program at MSUM. He sees many familiar faces in his classes and feels that both his peers and professors support him.
As part of his program, Alonzo has been completing his practicum at Saint Joe’s Catholic School, where he has observed the discrepancy and stigma.
“I’ve had experiences with parents, when I work with their child, where they seem to question why I’m in education because it’s stereotyped as a woman’s job. Kids are in shock sometimes too, they’re happy to see me, but it’s still a surprise to see a male teacher,” he says.
Alonzo’s passion for teaching stems back to his childhood. As one of the oldest siblings in his family, he has always assumed a caregiver role for his younger siblings and cousins. In sixth grade, he realized that teaching was his passion. Since then, he has been committed to pursuing a teaching degree.
Alonzo strives to be a positive male figure for students without one and create a welcoming environment for all the children that pass through his classroom.
Throughout his practicum, Alonzo has cultivated effective communication and leadership skills, which have enabled him to succeed in his role as a teacher. Navigating relationships with young children can pose a challenge as each child learns differently and teachers need to be prepared to navigate a range of emotions in the classroom.
Alonzo’s mentor, Reina Park, motivated him to present at this year’s conference.
“This is my first time presenting and she’s helped me a lot with formatting and laying out my topic. She was the one who really encouraged me to pursue it,” he states.
Alonzo’s presentation highlighted the importance of male representation in the classroom and addressed the stigma and under-representation of men as educators.
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