Grown men returned to the classroom for the first day of school at Union Elementary Monday as a part of the school’s first-time participation in this year’s Million Father March, a national movement that encourages fathers to bring their children to school on that first day and to take an active role in their children’s lives, particularly in their education.
“I wanted to embrace it for our school,” Union Elementary principal Dr. Linda Jewell Carr shared this summer. “I want to do anything that we can to open our school doors to parents and make them feel welcome.”
On Monday, parents — particularly fathers and male mentors — came through those open school doors with their children in strong support of the march and the school’s desire to see more parental involvement.
“I’m really excited. It was highly energizing and went better than I had even hoped it would,” said Carr. “We collected 93 signatures the first day then, because we have kindergarteners on a staggered schedule this first week, we had eight more today (Tuesday) and we expect a few more tomorrow (Wednesday).”
Carr recognized the Rev. Al Carr and the Rev. LeRoy Newkirk for helping make the march such a success. “They helped spearhead it and were here to greet families and encourage it during open house.”
When asked if Union Elementary will continue participating in the march in years to come, Carr said, “I hope so. I think the children enjoyed the extra support and I think all the parents took notice of the extra male mentors in the building. It was a positive way to start the school year.”
It’s a start that “sends a strong, clear message (from parents to students) that school is important, that school is your future, and that your education is important to me,” said Carr in earlier remarks, stressing that “it is critical for kids to feel that support.”
With the first day of school in the rear-view mirror, Carr noted that now the priority it to maintain that support. “We encourage fathers and other male mentors — we had grandfathers, uncles, brothers — to continue to be active in their child’s life. The steps have been taken. Now it’s about continuing.”
According to information provided by the school, the Million Father March is “the largest, organized back-to-school effort in U.S. history” and “this year, an estimated 1,100,000 men from 600 cities were expected to participate.”
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.