Men Teach Focuses on Males in Early Childhood Education


Men Teach New England held their annual fall meeting recently on the Wheelock College campus. Men Teach is a national organization focused on issues around males in early childhood education, particularly males in classrooms. Wheelock College alumni Jerry Parr and Craig Simpson participated in this gathering.

When Jerry Parr arrived at Wheelock as an undergraduate in 1978, he was one of the first male students at the College. After completing his BA and MS in Early Childhood Education, he traveled to upstate New York to teach gifted-intelligent first graders. What set Jerry apart from his fellow faculty members who were not Wheelock graduates was that he focused on how students think. This allowed him to revise and adapt lesson plans to best fit his students, rather than using the same standard “off the shelf” plans that don’t work for all students. Now, Jerry works for Head Start and Early Head Start, making sure that the programs meet the needs of every child and every family.

Craig Simpson received his MS in Early Childhood Education at Wheelock, which he says is the best college in the country to learn about children. During his time at Wheelock, Craig’s ideas were further inspired by the thoughts of people around him and the intellectual understanding of Piaget. Males only make up 3-6% of professionals in the Early Childhood Education field, and while Craig admits that it has been difficult to work around discrimination and bias, he says his education and experiences at Wheelock have helped set him apart.

Following MenTeach New England’s meeting, Jerry Parr offered his thanks to Wheelock College and to Brian Minchello, Director of Graduate Admissions, for hosting the group.

This year’s meeting included a panel presentation to discuss strategies for recruitment, retention and on-going support. Further gratitude is extended to the following:

  • Clarence Little, Education Director at Grove Hall Child Development Center in Mattapan, MA
  • Craig Simpson, (Wheelock ’89) Infant Toddler Teacher at Yawkey Center in Dorchester, MA
  • David Fernie, Professor of Education Wheelock College
  • Brenda Powers, Director of Nazareth Child Care Center in Jamaica Plains, MA

Leland Clarke, Associate Professor of Education and Music, was the day’s speaker, providing a dynamic and engaging retrospective look at how he became an early childhood teacher and, despite some bumpy spots,the factors that kept him in the field for so long.

Also helping to organize the event were Jeff Robbins, Director Child Care Center at Dartmouth College, and Jerry Parr (Wheelock ’78), President/CEO of Willow Tree Early Education Team.

MenTeach New England invites everyone interested in providing children gender balance in the classroom to join their conversations on Facebook.