More than 100 fathers, father figures – and yes, even some moms – helped kicked off the Strong Fathers, Strong Families program at Herrera Elementary School with a “Bring Your Dad to School Day” event earlier this week.
The nation-wide program’s founder, J Michael Hall, was at Herrera to on Monday to speak with students and parents about the role male figures play in a successful learning environment.
“We love being in EPISD. There’s a commitment to families here in this district,” Hall said. “And we love that fathers are being encouraged to take part in these events because when dads are involved, research shows the results for kids are better.”
Herrera is among the 39 EPISD elementary schools implementing the program.
Strong Fathers, Strong Families encourages dads and male role models to take an active role in their child’s learning. Once trained, each school hosts four different events throughout the year: Bring Your Dad to School Day, Dad & Kid Reading, Dad & Kid Math and Dad & Kid Science.
“Last year we trained 23 campuses, and we have had an amazing response,” said Angie Ramirez, EPISD’s Family Engagement coordinator. “Each event is geared at teaching dad how to have fun learning with their students. We break down the barriers and make dads feel more comfortable coming to school events and participating.”
Parent Bruno Orellana welcomed the chance to spend more time with his third-grade son Bruno Orellana Jr., smiling every time he rollerbladed by him during PE class.
“It’s great to see the kids in their environment and seeing what they do during the day. The turnout is really great,” Orellana said. “It really shows that parents are involved with their kids.”
“I love when my dad comes to school,” Bruno said. “I like for him to come and see what I am doing.”
After visiting the classroom, parents shared what they learned with the program’s founder. Hall asked them about what they observed in their student’s class and how it compared to their own class growing up.
“We wanted you to see what was going on in class and how different it is and how it will prepare them for the future,” he said. “Kids have better outcomes when dads are involved in their education. When dads come to school, know the teacher and friends, ask about homework and attend two to three events a year, your kid is more likely to get A’s and B’ s, less likely to repeat a grade and more likely to do extracurricular activities.”
Hall guided the parents through an icebreaker and some fun team-building activities, letting them speak at the end about how what they learned.
“The dads start out a little quiet and reserved, but by the end they are laughing and shaking hands. They are making connections with other dads,” Ramirez said. “The things they say at the end of the program are so powerful.”
Lexis Gomez understands how important it is for his nephew Lestat Holmes to get that kind of support.
“In our family situation, the kids don’t really see their dad, so I want to show them they have a male role model to count on for these events,” Gomez said. “It feels good to come out here and be here for him.