Capital School District aims to get fathers involved in education

DOVER — It’s been a long-running joke that men aren’t particularly known for their proficiency at stopping and asking for directions.

Perhaps that’s why some fathers tend to stray off course and get left behind, especially when it comes to keeping up with their children’s education.

The Capital School District has decided to provide their fathers and male role models with a road map towards gaining that direction as it will participate for their first time in the Million Father March next Tuesday.

While there won’t be parades to Dover High School, William Henry Middle School or Towne Point Elementary in honor of the Million Father March, there will be plenty of activities for fathers and their children to participate in together at all of the 12 schools in the Capital School District.

Most of the schools will be serving breakfast to fathers and their children, with other activities — such as meet the school staff — intertwined into the event.

Dr. Dan Shelton, superintendent of the Capital School District, thinks it is important to invite the fathers to the educational table.

“Capital chose to get involved because we recognize the importance of our families being active participants in their child’s education,” Dr. Shelton said. “We further recognize there is a special role played by fathers and father figures in the lives of children and we want to both welcome and support that role in our schools.

“This is another way we are trying to actively reach out to the community and get them involved in new and different ways in the education of their children in very active and visible ways.”

The Million Father March is a movement that was created by The Black Star Project’s Fathers’ Club in a basement in a Chicago church in 2004.

It began as an opportunity for African-American men to show their commitment to the educational lives of their children by accompanying their kids to the first day of school and actively participating in their education throughout the school year.

However, Dr. Shelton stresses that while the Million Father March was originally designed by and for African Americans, people of any race, gender, nationality and faith background are encouraged to participate in the Capital School District’s upcoming event for fathers.

“It is extremely important that children see that education is important and what better way to show that importance than taking time out of your busy day to visibly display that support by being present at school,” he said. “When children see school is important to the family then they will more actively engage in their own learning.”

The upcoming community event is not restricted to fathers alone. Grandfathers, foster fathers, stepfathers, uncles, cousins, big brothers, significant male caregivers, family friends and other male role models are welcome to attend.

While all of the schools in the Capital School District will have their own events going on, North Dover Elementary will be hosting breakfast along with a program called “Real Men Read,” where guest readers will read to the students.

Dr. Kelly Green, principal at North Dover, said she has received a lot of interest in the program.

“In other schools that I have been in we have participated in this program,” Dr. Green said. “We wanted to make sure we could do something that will help male role models get involved in the classroom and that’s why we decided on a reading-based program.

“By providing role models who get in front of the students and read, we hope that will help to turn the tables a little bit for young people who don’t like to read. We’ve had some interest in the event and we’re really looking forward to it.”

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