Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Preschool Administrator Brett Gent by Mike Prochaska

Men in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Preschool Administrator Brett Gent

Brett Gent currently works “in a leadership position within a public preschool in the suburbs of Adelaide [Australia].” He says this role satisfies his love for play and work with children and the responsibilities that come with leading a staff team and running the administrative aspects of a “small business.” Read on to learn more about Brett…

Q. How did you get into this field?

“I fell into this field around 20 years ago after a work accident prevented me from continuing to work in manual labor. At that time, I was building and maintenance at a school. I was placed into kindy care/afterschool care, really enjoyed the connections, relationships and play so I decided to retrain and studied my way through qualifications until I completed my Bachelor of Early Childhood around five years ago. 

"I ended up working in a community children’s centre as a team leader in a kindy room and assistant director before, moving into public education, first in a year 2 classroom, which was a great learning experience, but I missed play and kindy. So I went back to kindy, working contracts until winning a permanent position as a kindy teacher. An opportunity to be a kindergarten director was presented, which I tried and really enjoyed the leadership of staff as well as working with children. This is where I am now and love it!”

Q. What’s the advantages of having a male teacher?

“I have been told that being male is an advantage in the early years as there are so few of us around. I have actually been lucky enough to work with males in every centre but two I have worked in, which is around seven. I have always had great experiences and positive interactions with the families I have worked with. I work hard at building relationships, which helps a lot. While I have heard some interesting stories of poor treatment of males because of gender, I have been grateful for the support of the communities I have worked in as well as a fantastic mentor and mate in Marty Mills-Bayne, who has been instrumental in his work with male teachers at University of South Australia, Magill.

"MENtor is a fantastic support group for any beginning teacher and student, especially male. My colleagues have mentioned it’s good to have male around to help with building, or sports or heavier work. I have those skills so that’s fine, but just because you are male doesn’t automatically mean that you are sporty or handy with a hammer! Gender balance is always a great thing in any work place, having different points of view, ways of doing things and ideas, really helps to have a balanced and interesting work place.”

Q. What’s your favorite memory working with kids?

“Like many of the responses you have had about memories, there are too many! But one consistent memory I have is the work with children with special needs that make such great gains in a year and the joy I share with the families. So, I guess ‘the joy’ is a favorite memory of mine.”

Q. What books do you like to read for yourself and to kids?

“I read ‘Free to Learn’ by Peter Gray. Keep having fun, treasure this time you share with children, play, laugh, reflect often, go outside, take risks, encourage children to challenge themselves when playing and know that you work in a field where many people are making differences every day!

“My favorite books that I like to read to the children are generally the ones that are born from children’s ideas during play. Mem Fox or Dr. Seuss are always classics! I am passionate about sharing Kaurna culture, so I read many dreaming stories or children’s books by indigenous authors like Ezekiel Kwaymullina or Sally Morgan [that] we have available, as well as sing and speak in Kaurna language when I can."

Q. Anything else you’d like to add?

“Clare Crew, Marc Armitage and Peter Gray are three that I follow, as well as many posts and shares from the MENtor page and the new AAMEC page, both of which I am involved in as well as the many other educators I have connected with over the years.”

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Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
So great to see the love of early childhood education! Thanks for shining a light on this, Mike Prochaska !

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