Male Teacher Shortage Affects Boys Who Need Role Models

From USA Today

By Hollie Deese

For 35 years, Len Saunders has been teaching physical education to elementary school children in Montville, N.J. Personally, he knows how important a strong male role model can be and hopes he is that for his students. His own father died just months before he was born, so he depended on uncles, coaches and other men to guide him in certainareas of his physical and mental development. Without them, he thinks, his life would have taken a different path.

“Support from a male figure, it really contributes to their confidence level,” Saunders says of his students.

At Valley View Elementary School where he teaches, Saunders, 56, is one of very few men — he estimates just 5 percent of the staff. It’s a number he’d like to see change.

“A male role model figure is a key person in many of the boys’ lives, especially if this person is someone who listens, who’s a giving person and patient,” he says. “And there may be boys who might be afraid to ask a question to a female figure or may be more comfortable with specific questions geared for men.”