Those who can, teach. Alden Adams, a preschool teacher at Helping Hands, left the business world to follow his true calling as an early-education teacher.
“I originally went to school for business and then worked at a bank for three years,” he said, recalling it was “the worst three years of my life. I was always looking forward to not working.
“I always knew I should have been a teacher,” Adams said, noting he decided to quit his job and go to Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville to make it happen. His younger brother and sister were going there, too, to become teachers, so they all decided to get an apartment together.
“Children have always been a part of my life, whether it is younger siblings, cousins or nieces and nephews,” Adams said. “I guess I haven’t ever imagined my life not interacting with kiddos.
“Thinking back on it, I guess seeing my mom and the way she connected with children was pretty inspiring. I am sure the example she set really shaped my view of life.
“My mother is a director of an early childhood education center in Iowa and her two sisters are both teachers as well,” Adams said. “I have three siblings who are also teachers, so I guess it is safe to say it is just in our blood.
“I have always enjoyed the early childhood approach to education. These little minds are so ready to learn, and that is so exciting. The way they build and connect experiences to create the way they perceive certain items is just astonishing.”
This is his first teaching job in a preschool. He taught last year in Auxvasse, Mo., as a K-8 special education teacher.
“That position really got me interested in the special education aspect of teaching,” Adams said. “I knew coming into this position that there would be many challenges, but I am so glad that I made the switch.
“Early childhood education really connects with my outlook on how children learn and that makes all of the extra hours enjoyable,” he said.
“I am not afraid to be pretty goofy with the children,” Adams said.
“I absolutely love this school district. I really feel a part of a team here and that is something that I have felt from day one. I love how smoothly everything transitions, and that is definitely thanks to all of the amazing paraprofessionals, teachers and administrators.
“When it comes to the children in my classroom, I think it is safe to say that I have never felt so needed somewhere. I love being the smiling face who gets to greet them at the door. I really do believe that this is what I was meant to do with my life,” he said.
“Every day is a surprise with this position. You never know what is going to come out of these little peoples’ mouths each and every day,” he said.
“I have learned so much this first year here. Class management has gotten so much better, and I really am feeling more comfortable as a teacher. Throughout this year I am really able to see how relationships being built really are the most important part of teaching. These kiddos sure are something pretty special.
“All of my friends and family give me a hard time because when Saturday rolls around, I am just so ready for Monday. It is just the most amazing feeling loving your job this much. I really do believe that the kiddos are why I love this position so much,” he said.
“I absolutely love to see them work problems out, each in their own way. I think it is just so exciting seeing them learn to interact with each other. Many of these children have never been in a social setting with same-aged peers. I love to see those moments, after a kid is working to reach something, where it finally just clicks and the connection is made.”
While he acknowledges it is unusual to be a male in a predominately female classroom setting, he feels completely at ease and very much welcomed by his peers.
“I really don’t think that there is too much difference when it comes to genders and the approach to teaching,” Adams said. “I like to think that I keep things simpler, but that is just my teaching style.
“It is so good to see that men and women can do all of the tasks, like reading stories and preparing lunches. A person’s role in life is not any certain gender-specific tasks and I think it is very exciting for a young kiddo to see,” he said.
“Being a positive role model is something that I really believe each and every child needs in their lives. Female teachers provide that and male teachers also provide that. I think that it really comes down to what the child needs in their life. There are many children out there who don’t have a male role model and I do enjoy that I can provide that.
“Communication is definitely very important in all aspects of the teaching field,” he said. “I really believe that many of the parents enjoy having me as their child’s teacher.
“Conferences and other parent-teacher meetings are always so much fun for me,” he said. “There are definitely some pretty amazing people in this area.
“The children all respond very well with me,” Adams said. “I also have a male para-educator, Joshua Lopez, (the only male para in the district).
“I do believe that some children react differently to genders, meaning that some listen better to females, and some to males. With my personality, I do find it very easy to connect with the kiddos in the classroom,” he said.