Beyond Vassar

Preschool Perspective

By Molly Finkelstein ’08

Vassar is historically known for sending women out into the world to challenge the norms and often take on important jobs in male-dominated fields. What we haven’t heard much about is the Vassar men who have challenged the status quo, by taking jobs in primarily female fields.

Meet Richard Kramer ’88. Kramer has been a preschool teacher for the past 11 years, at the Alef-Bet Child Care Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In his tenure there, he has had only one fellow male teacher, for one school year.

While at Vassar, Kramer was a political science major. “But my grandma always said I would be a good teacher, and I decided that was a good idea to follow,” he says. “I tried it and found I was really good at it.”

One of Kramer’s specialties is teaching the children how to operate woodworking tools in the shop he has set up in his classroom. “I teach them how to use hand drills and hand saws. You don’t [typically] see that in preschools,” he says. A builder of model rockets as a kid, Kramer also teaches a month-long unit on rockets.

According to Kramer, only five percent of preschool teachers are men, but, he says, teaching can be difficult regardless of gender. “It’s hard for any teacher… hard to learn how to manage a classroom, how to keep order.”