Grace College’s School of Education will launch its new group, “Grace Men of Ed,” at the start of its semester in January to promote Men in Education. The program will pair male education students at Grace College with male K-6 Jefferson Elementary students who are in need of a positive role model.
“This program has generated a lot of excitement among our staff and students,” said Josh Wall, principal at Jefferson Elementary. “We can never underestimate the impact a positive role model can make for one child.”
The direction for the group was inspired by freshman education student Isaac Merida, who started meeting with a student at Jefferson over lunch a few weeks after he arrived at Grace.
“Dr. Bremer knew of a student in need of a positive male influence, so she reached out to me to see if I would be willing to have lunch with him every week and just establish a friendship with him,” said Merida.
Merida, who was originally inspired to go into education because of an influential male teacher in fifth grade, jumped at the opportunity.
“There are so many different types of families today,” said Merida. “Some kids grow up without a father figure or a positive male role model, so having men in education in the elementary schools can really help. After all, students are with their teachers for a large portion of the week — that poses a huge opportunity to make an impact on their lives.”
Merida says becoming a lunch buddy at Jefferson gives him the chance to make an impact before he teaches a class of his own.
As a result, Dr. Kevin Voogt, assistant professor of education at Grace, is spearheading the new program to create a pathway for all-male education majors to serve in a similar capacity.
Voogt said the group of volunteers will begin by meeting with a Jefferson student once a month over lunch and recess, but the group may expand to include after-school tutoring in the future.
“We have more than 20 men in the School of Education, and a good number of them have already expressed excitement about this new opportunity,” said Voogt. “It’s all about being a presence and being a light, and that’s what our students at Grace are all about.”