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Amanda Raymond column: A plea to fathers

This week, Isenberg Elementary School was able to host a Million Father March for the first time. The event went great; it was amazing to see all the fathers gathered in support of their kids. But something happened during the program that broke my heart.

The fathers and students marched from the bus port to the front of the school behind a huge green banner with the words “Million Father March” painted on it in white. While walking back into the school, I saw some people crowded around a crying little boy.

This being an elementary school, I didn’t think much of it. I immediately felt sorry for the child, but young kids cry for a lot of different reasons. He might have just been crying because he didn’t want to go to class. We’ve all had those days.

Later, I found out from Krystal Stukes, the student support specialist for Communities in Schools, that the little boy was crying because his father could not come to the march. Hearing that almost brought a tear to my eye. To see a child so upset about his father not attending a program with him, not being able sit beside him during the presentation and walk him to class, was just plain sad.

But it was also eye-opening.

Stukes told me that many students had fathers who were absent because of incarceration and other reasons. Many of those students did not have a positive male model in their lives.

It is so important for fathers to be involved in supporting their children’s education.

According to a book authored by Michael Lamb and Catherine Tamis-Lemonda about the role of the father on child development, research has found that when fathers are more involved in their children’s lives, the children are more cognitively competent and empathetic. They are also more likely to believe they control their own destiny.

Stukes wrote in a press release that a father taking an interest in his child’s education leads that child to have better grades, higher test scores, more enjoyment in school and higher graduation rates.

I know that without an encouraging father in my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today. My father always pushed me to go further in my studies and get all that I could from my classes. Back in the third or fourth grade, I remember my father quizzing me on my multiplication tables every night. Thanks to him, I aced every quiz.

Of course my mother encouraged me as well, but the combination of the two of them constantly letting me know how important education was always stuck with me.

The bottom line is that fathers are an important influence in the educational outcomes of their children’s lives. Dads need to stop relying on the mothers to volunteer for the Parent Teacher Association and other opportunities and start signing up themselves.

At the end of the day, what Marvin Moore, principal of Isenberg, said is true. The actions kids see their parents perform matters. And when a child sees that his or her father cares about whether they do well in school, they will start to care as well.

Contact education reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.

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