According to the National Education Association Mississippi lags far behind the rest of the nation when it comes to the number of male teachers in public schools. However, one local school system is beating the odds.
Unlike many schools, the Newton City School District has been able to attract a number of male teachers for its elementary and middle schools.
"A lot of children respect, well they respect male and female teachers, but there are some children who respect males a little more," says NPSD Superintendent, Dr. Virginia Young. "So, it's been working great here in Newton."
One of those instructors is Corey Carlton. The 6 foot 7 inch tall kindergarten teacher has worked for the past five years as an instructor at Newton Elementary.
"I think sometimes they come from homes where they see their moms more, and this gives them a chance to see a male in a positive position, and that helps out a lot," says Carlton. "When they see me, and look up to me, to see the smile on their faces means so much to me, and I know that it means a lot to them as well."
"You have children that maybe are in a single parent home with their mother without a father figure, and it helps when you have males at school teaching them or showing them things that they may not be getting at home," says Newton Elementary Principal, Dean Reid.
According to the non-profit organization, Men Teach, there are often two things that deter men from going into education. First, there's the perceived low social status and secondly, low pay. According to the men we talked to on this day, being in education is definitely a labor of love.
Such is the case for Luke Gibbon who has worked as the physical education instructor at Newton Elementary for the past ten years.
"You think about when you were young, and when you went to school there was always somebody there to help who was a bus driver, principal or teacher, and you just want to give back and give the same thing that was given to you," says Gibbon.
The latest figures from the National Education Association show that in 2012 Mississippi ranked only behind the state of Virginia for having the lowest number of male public school teachers in the nation. Louisiana, South Carolina, and Georgia rounded out the top five states with the lowest number. Topping the list with the most male teachers was Kansas.