From Touchdowns to Toddlers

BY ANDREW BLOM // MAY 10, 2012 // 

“Wait, we have a duck over here,” said Jason Margeson.

The 24-year-old, with arms the size of an ordinary man’s thigh, rose from a small blue chair that was built for a toddler. He then reached under a table to turn off a toy that someone had left on.

Just another day at the office.

“I would have never thought I would work with children,” said Margeson, who graduated from Curry in 2010 with a degree in psychology and a minor in education. He is now a full-time licensed teacher at the Curry Early Childhood Center (CECC).

Though he sometimes gets the “Kindergarden Cop” comparison from others, Jason Margeson destroys the stereotype of what it means to be a macho man. // PHOTO BY ANDREW BLOM

The CECC, founded in 1981, is a daycare and preschool on campus that tends to 55 children, from infancy to age 4. The Center employs certified teachers, such as Margeson, as well as Curry work-study students who assist teachers in providing the children a safe and fun learning environment.

As a student, Margeson was a member of the football team from 2007 to 2009. He played running back, cornerback and outside linebacker. As a teacher, he’s still playing, although his new “team” is filled with approximately nine 2- and 3-year-olds. Margeson is also the CECC’s lone full-time male employee, which makes the muscle-bound Brockton, Mass., native stand out a bit from his colleagues.

“Sometimes you don’t really have anyone to talk sports with,” said Margeson on the disadvantages of being the only male teacher. “Well, some of the girls do, but it dies out pretty quick.”

Other than that, Margeson said being the only guy has its advantages. “The women help me out a lot” on the job, he said. “That female influence makes it easy to talk to them about any problems I might have with the children and they have helped me grow as a teacher. They help me calm down.”

Margeson began working at the Center his sophomore year, needing a job—any job—to earn his work-study aid. He said his former teammates would often jokingly tease him about the one he got, but Margeson enjoyed the work and found that he was good at it, too.

“On the field, I was very physical and [my teammates] wouldn’t think I could calm down that much to work with children,” he said.

Margeson has used his love of sports to connect with many of the children, whether through baseball, soccer or any other sport. He said he once attempted to teach the kids flag football, but “that didn’t go too well. But we tried, and it was fun.”

Margeson said his primary responsibility is ensuring that each child is safe and that they have fun throughout the day. Prior to becoming the teacher for toddlers ages 2 and 3, he spent his first year on staff in the infant room, where his main responsibilities included giving the babies bottles and changing diapers. Among the infants Margeson cared for was then-6-month- old Owen MacDougall, son of Curry Communication Professor Robert MacDougall.

“He’s fantastic with kids,” said MacDougall, who first met Margeson when his older son attended CECC as well. “He fits the Hollywood stereotype for masculinity, but he’s nice, gentle and patient, and blows this stereotype away, which bodes well for these kids.”

Compared to playing college football, Margeson described working at the daycare as going from “one extreme to another.” Whereas he used to be intense and physical, his current responsibilities require him to be calm, mellow and patient. Yet, in some ways, Margeson said he takes inspiration from many of his former youth sports coaches. He often views his work at the CECC as simply a different avenue to “make a big impact on a child.”

Although Margeson said his job can be frustrating at times, he quickly remembers how young the children are and simply tries to find solutions that are unique to each child’s personality.

“Their interested in everything that we take for granted,” said Margeson. “They see everything in such a different way. They haven’t seen the negative things in the world.

“You can be yourself and they are not going to judge you,” he added. “You can be as silly and as goofy as you want, and they’ll just join in with you.”

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