DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Male role models across the country are pledging to be a positive influence on their students.
Monday, Belmont High School invited fathers, grandfathers or other father figures to join in “National Men Make a Difference Day.” The initiative acknowledges student academic success and behavior is largely influenced by fathers and encourages the men to become involved in their students’ school life.
“This has really been a cathartic event for a lot of our dads, though, because they’re having the opportunity to sit with their child, have some meaningful discussion, have breakfast with their child and just talk,” said Belmont Principal Dr. Donetrus Hill.
The breakfast and workshop taught the men about the benefits of parent involvement, a concept some said they were already striving to practice.
“It’s something I always found that my kids were being more successful when they had parental involvement,” said Ron Rowland, a former teacher and now the grandfather of a Belmont student. “That’s what I try to do with my grandchildren as well.”
Rowland’s granddaughter Ayonna Harris, a Belmont Sophomore added, “A lot of kids don’t have their grandparents or their fathers in their lives, so I’m lucky to have mine in my life to see if I’m doing okay in school.”
Others said they were eager to get involved, but unsure how to approach it.
“I just want to make sure he knows he has a backbone… and I’m here for him,” Rick Webster said of his 8th grade grandson.
David Bunsman, another father, added, “It shows that I really care about what they’re doing in here, supporting them.”
Dr. Hill provided the male role models with ideas to be more involved with inside and outside of school. Small groups discussed goals and the students their father figures signed pledges to do specific things, like volunteer, attend school board meetings and assist with homework.
Dr. Hill said the academic engagement would be a catalyst for long-term involvement and influence.
“We want our children to graduate,” said Dr. Hill. “But we also want them to have the social skills that they can insert themselves into society.”