Number of Male Teachers Shrinking Fast

But do young children really notice that there is a dearth of men in school? "Children are no dummies," says Nelson. "When they see no men in a school, they get a message. And that message is that men don't care or men don't belong here."

That's a message Jonathan Maiden never wants the kids in his class to believe. And while he may be part of a dying breed, he's inspired and determined to realize his dreams.

"When I started this job, I knew I wasn't going to make a lot of money. Do I want a million dollars? Yeah! But it's not that important to me," he said.

"Just seeing the positive impact that I'm making on these children on a day-to-day basis, the change that I see during the school year. I mean, that's my million dollars right there."

According to research, the presence of a male teacher in the classroom has an impact not only on boys' self-esteem but also on their academic performance. One recent British study from the Training and Development Agency for Schools found that the presence of a male teacher in the classroom for a year closed the achievement gap significantly between boys and girls, especially in English and social studies, subjects that girls tend to do better in than boys.

If your child's school is short on male teachers, there are several ways parents can help.

Fathers can often step in to fill the void, volunteering in the classroom, joining the PTA and showing their kids that they value the school.

Talking about the important job teachers do and encouraging boys from an early age to consider a career in education is another easy and critical way to change the often negative attitude society has toward male teachers.

Provide ways for boys to interact with young children -- either as mentors or baby sitters -- and praise their nurturing side. If your child does have a male teacher, go out of your way to make him feel welcome.

And, most important, advocate for increased pay for all teachers. It's no coincidence that Michigan -- which boasts the highest teacher salaries -- also has the highest percentage of men in its schools.

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