Male teachers break down gender divide at Alexander Heights school

Teachers Joel Norman, Lewis Penny and Mike Donohue with students Miller Stephens, Talia Stillitans, Mia Cicchino, Amaija Pekkanen and Gisele Cvetkovski.  Picture: Martin Kennealey         www.communitypix.com.au   d442918
Teachers Joel Norman, Lewis Penny and Mike Donohue with students Miller Stephens, Talia Stillitans, Mia Cicchino, Amaija Pekkanen and Gisele Cvetkovski. Picture: Martin Kennealey         www.communitypix.com.au d442918

A TRIO of teachers at an Alexander Heights Primary School are challenging stereotypes.

Teachers Lewis Penny and Michael Donohue and special needs education assistant Joel Norman work with kindergarten and pre-primary students at Alinjarra Primary School.

Principal Lesley Meyers said male teachers in primary schools were a “rare commodity”.

“It is the first time in my career that I’ve had two male teachers in early childhood,” she said. “They are excellent role models for young students (and) have been well accepted by the parents.”

Mr Penny, of Mindarie, started working at the school last year but did not expect to be placed in early childhood.

“At first I felt a little apprehensive but I’ve come to really enjoy it,” he said. “Younger boys need a male role model in their life, especially as many of their dads are fly-in, fly-out and there are family separations.”

Mr Penny studied teaching at Edith Cowan University in Joondalup, where he said the ratio was about 10 male to 100 female students.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do for quite a long time and then I saw a pamphlet about teaching and one day it just struck me, that’s what I want to do,” he said.

“It’s so rewarding when you see the progress that children make.”

The Department of Education’s most recent annual report found that 19.9 per cent of primary school teachers were male. In early childhood, the figures dropped significantly, with men making up just 3.3 per cent of pre-primary teaching staff and 2.5 per cent in kindergarten.

Though initially hesitant, Mr Penny said his preference was now to stay in early childhood teaching and encouraged other men to consider it.