by Ben Talley - Education Beat

You young men out there … so you want to do something really tough and brave, something to change the world, something adventurous, something really different?

Well, you could join the Marines, and you’d definitely do all of the above.

But you could also do “all of the above” by becoming an elementary school teacher.

I can personally vouch for the undeniable truth that all-of-the-above criteria are met in my job on a daily basis.

Why then do so few good men consider entry into the deeply honorable service of teaching young children as a career?

I’m not sure, but in this particular column I will tell you men out there exactly what to expect if you do.

You will become as tough and as brave as if you ran head-on into a hail of bombs and bullets on a beach. Your battle lines will be clearly drawn, as you leap valiantly into harm’s way every day to defeat poverty, child abuse/neglect, ignorance and apathy.

You will become one of the most beloved figures you could ever imagine to walk this Earth. Children will flock to you like the Pied Piper. Many will slip and call you “Dad” or “Popaw,” because you will often take the place of the missing male role model that they long for (and so desperately need) in their lives.

You will change the life of every child who ever comes your way — simply by being kind. In many instances, you will be the only “real man” role model that children have ever seen. Your opportunity to change the world will be immeasurable, every moment of every single day.

You will eventually make thousands of cherished lifetime friends, as the wee ones you teach eventually become adults. They will remember you forever, even when they grow large, because they know how much you truly cared for them when they were small. No one you ever meet in this world will have more real friends than you. In this way, you will become rich beyond your wildest dreams.

You will become a target for snipers. Some people will never understand how a grown man could be as compassionate and giving toward little children as are you. Yet you will retain your sense of honor and dignity, always taking the high road, being forever grateful you were called to serve in this elite “special forces” division of humanity.

You will, far from the spotlight of grandeur, alter as many lives as if you had won a Noble Peace Prize. Yet you likely will remain relatively anonymous in so doing.

You will never be looked upon as “weak” or “feminine.” Quite the contrary, you will be highly honored (by both men and women alike) as a “real man,” in every true sense of the phrase.

Ninety-five percent of the adults you work alongside will be women. You will have a thousand chances a day to treat them with honor and respect, behaving as a gentleman in every way. In return, you will gain the very real friendship of women, a glittering treasure left altogether undiscovered by too many men.

It is perhaps a good thing that male elementary teachers are so few. Not every man is tough and brave enough to meet the great task at hand. For such a reason, our number is likely to remain relatively few.

So … you young men out there, if you are tough enough and brave enough … if you have the right stuff … consider joining us.

The few. The proud. The male elementary school teachers.

Ben Talley is an inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, a former Virginia Teacher of the Year, and a McGlothlin Award Winner for Teaching Excellence.