The man who became a school

by Dr. Marcia S. Popp, Professor of Education, Director of Teacher Education, retired

I have read your website with great interest, having written a book [The Man Who Became a School, (2004)] about the career of a man who devoted his entire career to being a teacher and principal at a small, rural school in Southern Illinois.

Children in rural schools are as at-risk as those in the inner city, suffering from poverty, neglect and the lack of strong male models to emulate. I was a teacher educator at nearby McKendree College, and shadowed Charles Kamm’s career for 20 of the nearly 40 years he spent as the inspirational leader and educator at Summerfield Grade School. This small anecdotal book chronicles his approach to teaching and includes, in his own words, the rewards he found in his career. The book also lists questions at the end of each chapter that encourage men to reflect on how they might use their own particular skills and talents to serve children at the elementary level.

I have worked cooperatively with male colleagues throughout my professional career, first as an elementary teacher and later as a college and university professor. I am also a textbook writer [Teaching Language and Literature in Elementary Classrooms, 2nd Edition (1996, 2005)]; Learning Journals in the K-9 Classroom (1997)] and co-author of a book of interviews with retired Olympians [American Men of Olympic Track and Field: Interviews with Athletes and Coaches (2004)], many of whom became teachers, following their Olympic careers. In both textbooks, I purposely included narratives of the fine men with whom I taught, and whose work I found to be exemplary.

At McKendree, I taught and supervised young men who were training to become teachers, and encouraged them to consider early childhood careers, as I strongly believe that the nurturing and intellectual stimulation that men provide their classes is more important to today’s children than ever before.

Congratulations on the work you are doing to encourage more men to consider teaching careers, and best wishes on your efforts.

Most sincerely,

Dr. Marcia S. Popp, Professor of Education, Director of Teacher Education, retired
1809 Monticello Place
Edwardsville, IL 62025

The Man Who Became a School is available from Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Just fill in the name of the book on the main web page and it should come up. There is a place to read reviews of the book, which include an endorsement from the Jesse Stuart Foundation and one from Education weekly.

Teaching Language and Literature in Elementary Classrooms: A Resource Book for Professional Development , 2nd Edition, is published by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Although it was written as a textbook, it may be of interest to young men considering teaching at the kindergarten and elementary levels.

I have followed the teaching career of Dick Koblitz, who is a featured teacher in the text, for nearly 30 years. He has been a primary teacher for all that time, and is currently pioneering a teaching format in the Clayton, Missouri schools, that involves having teachers stay with their students through the first three grades. Prominent in international reading associations, he has always been on the cutting edge of educational reform and innovation. Other men in the book are involved at the kindergarten level, are observed as student teachers, or their work is described in detail as they conduct classes at the primary or intermediate levels. It was my hope that these classroom narratives would demonstrate the particular strengths and talents of men as they work with young children.

My father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all teachers and their approach to students was one I have tried to emulate during my own teaching career. This influence, plus the experience of working with conscientious and talented men teachers at all levels of instruction, has given me great respect for the dedication in these persons and the positive effect they have in the classroom. Many of my male students from McKendree are now school principals, after having worked in the classroom successfully for many years. You will discover that the man featured in The Man Who Became a School refused to be, or continue as a principal, unless he could still be a teacher. It is, to many of us, the most sacred of callings.