Red and Blue – Is It In You? – Strong Fathers

Filed under: Schools |

Building stronger kids by strengthening fathers and families – that’s the mission of the Strong Fathers, Strong Families (SFSF) organization. It’s also a Duncanville ISD goal. DISD realizes that parent/school relationships are essential to student success. That’s why they’ve enlisted the help of SFSF to organize events throughout the district to encourage parent involvement. Their work with four schools over the past two years makes us proud to recognize Strong Fathers, Strong Families as the “Red and Blue – Is It In You?” honoree for February 2012.

In a partnership that began in November 2009, Hastings Elementary held Duncanville ISD’s first Bring Your Dad to School Day. “We hosted over three hundred and forty dads and guests of our students,” said former Hastings assistant principal Ebonye McGee. “Seeing the smiles on our kids’ faces, and those dads laughing and having a good time, we are extremely grateful to Strong Fathers, Strong Families for bringing their program to us.”

McGee is the person responsible for the relationship – she saw SFSF founder J Michael Hall speak at a conference and felt that his work could benefit our district. “So many times in schools, parents don’t feel welcome, and they don’t feel invited. We want to make sure that our parents know that we value their participation in their child’s education,” she said. “Strong Fathers, Strong Families is just an ideal organization. It’s led by a guy who has spent years in education and knows the ins and outs from parent, administrative, and teaching perspectives.”

Hall refers to himself as a “recovering principal.” He started SFSF after trying to find programs for parent engagement at a middle school where he worked. In the nine years since his organization’s inception, Hall says he has worked face-to-face with more than 110,000 fathers, many of those in Duncanville. “We have been fortunate enough to see lives change because a dad makes a stronger connection with his child – sometimes for the first time due to our programs. We have seen children begin to respond better to their fathers and mothers, and we have seen schools learn that parents can be a great asset to their child’s education if we provide the right opportunities.”

Since the first Bring Your Dad to School Day, Hastings has held several other Strong Fathers, Strong Families events, including Dad and Kid Math Nights, Science Nights, and Reading Nights. Seeing their success, Hardin Intermediate was the second Duncanville ISD school to start a partnership with SFSF. “We recognize our significant impact on the community,” explained principal Crystal Cross. “We wanted to acknowledge our strong fathers and families, and provide them with an opportunity to get of glimpse of life as a Hardin student.”

During SFSF events, parents are invited into schools to visit classrooms, participate in activities with their children, meet other parents, and learn from J Michael Hall about how they can become more involved in their student’s education. When McGee became Principal at Bilhartz Elementary in 2011, she brought Strong Fathers, Strong Families with her. “I wanted to make sure that Bilhartz students, families, and staff also had the benefit of that partnership as we work to chart our new path for success,” she said.

Kennemer Middle School has also begun working with SFSF during the 2011-12 school year. Hall and Duncanville ISD alike hope that this partnership that benefits all those who are involved will continue long into the future. “We want our students to achieve not only academically, but we want them to be well-rounded citizens who can achieve in the world – and that takes all of us working together,” said Hastings principal Julie Hargrove.