“I love coming to work.” – That’s a sentence you don’t hear everyday, but for Justin Cordes they are five words becoming more and more prevalent during his first month at Crittenton Centers.
Corders, 37, is the only male teacher teaching preschoolers (the Dragonflies) at Crittenton Centers. He visited here one month ago to observe for a college class, and “I wanted to be part of it,” he said.
And a part of it he is, as he gathers his group of Dragonflies on the rug for Sign & Sing class with Abbey Cook from Communication Junction. “How about you come back here and sit crisscross applesauce. … All right, give me five!” he energetically yelled out as directions are followed.
As the children learn the signs for more, friend, together and happy, among others, I decided to ask “Mr. Justin” just what brought him here.
1. What first caught your attention about Early Childhood Education?
As a stay at home dad, I had the privilege of spending a great deal of time with my daughter, and I took a very active role in her education. I met her teachers and volunteered in her classrooms and saw the passion and dedication that Early Childhood Educators put into their job.
2. Why didn’t you pursue high school history like you intended?
I had spent time in high school classrooms as a student observer and really felt like it wasn't a good fit for me. To be completely frank, it was depressing. A lot of the kids simply didn't care and the teachers that I worked with didn’t seem to care either. I felt, and still do, that I could have the most positive impact working with young children.
3. What drew you to Crittenton Centers and not another preschool?
I came to do some observation for a college class and never wanted to leave. I feel really, really great when I go home at the end of the day. We teach everything; social skills, reading, math and more.
4. Why do you think there are more women than men preschool teachers?
Well, for me, my choice came from something more personal. My dad wasn’t around when I was a kid. I was raised by my grandfather, and he was amazing. I have a lot of kids at risk, and I feel if I can just help one kid over the next year it will be all worth it. I want to be a positive male impact for kids that maybe don’t have one at home.
5. How would you describe your teaching style?
I don’t want to be overly forceful. I’m a catch more flies with honey kind of a teacher. I’ve learned these five tips: Quiet voices, quiet bodies, sit crisscross applesauce, ears listen and eyes open and on teacher. But I’m looking forward to what this year has to offer and everything I will learn.