Brotherly love leads to teaching career
It took a terrible affliction suffered by a sibling for Anaru Jones to find his calling in life.
The 22-year-old from Stokes Valley helps out at Tui Park Kindergarten in Linden four days a week as part of programme run by Whanau Maanaki Kindergartens.
The Y-Men initiative has seen 32 men, in four groups in the past year, placed in a Wellington region kindergarten for six months to see whether teaching is something they want to pursue.
Going into the sector wasn’t something Jones thought of until last summer, when his younger brother Motunga, 4, lost his hearing after a bout of meningitis.
He was given an allowance from Work and Income to go to Tui Park to help Motunga every day and, although his brother was his focus, he soon discovered that early childhood teaching was for him.
‘‘I was there [at Tui Park] to look after Motu, but whenever I’d turn up, I’d get hugs from all the other kids. It was a nice feeling and the teachers there really encouraged me to put my name forward for the Y-men programme.’’
Jones spends four days a week at Tui Park and one day a fortnight at Whanau Maanaki in Porirua, talking about his experiences, getting advice and studying business.
As a new father, he said embarking on an early childhood degree next year would undoubtedly increase his skills at home too.
Y-Men senior teacher Helen Smithies said about a third of the programme’s 32 men were looking at further careers in early childhood teaching.
‘‘We don’t expect them to all become teachers, but the hope is they can fulfil potential we know they have. They are great in kindergartens because the kids, some of whom don’t have father figures, adore them and they offer a different lens on teaching than women.’’
Figures from Ministry of Education show a wide gap between male and female teachers in early childhood education in New Zealand - only 321 out of 18,856 teachers are male.
Education Ministry acting deputy secretary for early learning and student achievement Karl Le Quesne commended the proactive approach of Whanau Manaaki.
Anaru Jones is part of Whanau Manaaki Kindergartens’ Y-men programme, which encourages young men into ECE teaching.