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Male kindergarten teacher bucks the trend

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

A male kindergarten teacher is a rare thing. Thomas Denson almost didn't get a chance. But, now he's proving that it's passion that matters, not gender.

Teaching kindergarten has been Denson's longtime goal. But, Mr. Denson almost didn't get the opportunity.  Despite having a graduate degree in early childhood education, Denson says he feels many principals didn't want to give him a chance.

"It was interview after interview after interview…in my brain I was thinking, it's because I'm a guy, I've got to step this up."

Finally, Denson got a chance at Fairley Elementary. He's beloved by his students. But for the parents, it took a little getting used to. He says parents have told him, they had apprehensions at first.

"But then they say I'm so glad you're my child's teacher now, I can see the growth. I see what you do."

When Denson first started, four students in his class were on the honor roll. Within four months, 17 students were named to the honor roll. He's also is one of the most highly evaluated teachers in the school.

Denson says he also adds value in the sense that many kids don't have positive male role models in their lives. He says he can see how the children respond.

"Now I have somebody who loves me, who teaches me, and cares about me and shows me and tells me every day, for eight hours a day.  It's really important."

Denson says he's the only male kindergarten he knows. The rarity, he says is part teaching culture, part stigma.

But he says he wants to show that anyone can teach, as long as the passion is there, "it's not the fact that I'm a man, or a male.  I'm a teacher, one.  So I came into this school with all my focus on teaching and this is what I can do."

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