Isenberg Elementary hosts Million Father March

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Local fathers and father figures united Tuesday to march in support of their children’s education.

Isenberg Elementary School partnered with Communities in Schools of Rowan County to host the school’s first Million Father March.

Fathers, uncles, grandfathers, coaches and other males of the community attended the event.

The men gathered at the school and walked from the bus port around to the front entrance of the school, carrying a green banner painted with the words “Million Father March.”

About 60 men attended.

The event was derived from The Black Star Project’s Million Father March event, originally created to encourage African American men to show their commitment to their children’s education, according to The Black Star Project’s website.

The website states that The Black Star Project is a nonprofit organization focused on giving disadvantaged African American and Hispanic communities educational services.

“A group of educators and a group of fathers decided that at some point, we as men need to get together and stand up for our kids in school,” Principal Marvin Moore said to the crowd.

Moore also said the men of the community need to take charge of what is occurring in the schools.

“And I think the best way to do that is to have the most powerful people in the household or the most powerful people in the kids’ lives to be a part of that,” he said.

The men enjoyed a free breakfast and visited their children’s morning meetings, where students are taught social skills. Teachers were given writing prompts to give to their students to help them write letters to their fathers.

“Some of the prompts were, ‘When I become a father I will …’ or ‘My father’s the best person in the world because …’ Anything to elaborate on that or how they feel,” Krystal Stukes, student support specialist for Community in Schools, said.

Other students created crafts to give to their fathers, like medallions.

According to its website, Communities in Schools is the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization. It provides supportive resources and community-based interventions to students.

Stukes said events like this even help the children who do not have a father or father figure in their lives.

“We’ve got some kids that don’t have fathers … so they put on paper what their feelings were about their fathers, and hopefully the dads coming in can give them an alternate view of what a dad is,” she said.

The men were encouraged to sign up for volunteer opportunities throughout the school year.

“We don’t just want to see the fathers for one thing. We don’t just want to see them today, we want them to come back,” Stukes said.

Ed Brown attended to support his first-grade daughter.

“It’s important for a father to be involved in a child’s life,” he said.

Eric Ellis said he wanted to show his fourth-grade son physical support.

“I think it’s very important that we show the kids that we’re here for them. They need to know that; they need to see it. They know it, but they need to see it,” he said.

Moore encouraged the men to get more involved with their children’s education to show them that school is important.

“Believe it or not, what you tell a kid is strong, but a lot of times what you show them is what they’ll do. And that’s the power in it. You have to show them that school matters,” he said.

Stukes said there will be additional Million Father events throughout the school year, and Moore said he hopes to make the event an annual one.

Moore said he was glad to see men supporting their children.

“I really fought back the tears,” he said. “I love to see men stand together for something.”

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.