Middle School Program Teaches Boys About Manhood

Published 03/07 2014 11:15AM

Updated 03/07 2014 10:47PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Jonathon Guyer is twenty six years old - and as a middle school math teacher at Truman, he knows how to relate to students half his age.

"It wasn't that long ago that I was in middle school and was in their position right there.  So I do think it helps me related to them a lot better," Guyer said.

But the group that Mr. Guyer has been teaching every Friday morning for about a month isn't math - it's a little different.

Earlier this year, school counselors brought the idea of teaching a group of boys how to be men.

And not too long ago, they received the grant that allowed them to make that idea a reality.

"All of us men teachers just jumped on the opportunity and thought it'd be a good idea for them," Guyer said.

School counselor Sarah Dudeck says she's enjoyed watching the group grow, and become a popular addition to a few boys' schedules.

Dudeck says many of the boys in the manhood group don't have strong male leaders at home.

"Middle school is such a difficult time.  They're coming into their own," she said.  "They're starting to be interested in relationships.  Their bodies are changing.  They just have a lot of questions."

Eighth grader Austin Matthews says they've tackled some serious subjects, and ones that are important as they get older:

"We've been talking about hygiene, and how to respect your parents, and how to respect girls," Matthews said.

The lessons also cover professional basics like how to tie a necktie or how to shave.

Mr. Guyer says he knows how to make a connection with these boys.

"I can relate a lot to these kids, because I did grow up without a father and didn't have a person in my home to teach me how to do these things," he said.

Far from trying to be a father figure, Mr. Guyer just wants to set an example of how to become an adult - something he had to learn along the way in his own life.

"My mom was the main one," he recalls.  "She was the one who taught me how to tie a tie.  A lot of my coaches too growing up: youth sports, middle school and high school sports, that was definitely a big one."

And whether it's the big issues like sex or dating, or lessons about how to get a job later in life, the lessons learned in this class could prove invaluable later in the lives of these teens.

The group still has a few weekly sessions left before they're done.

At the very end, the group will take on a community service project.

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