Last week the Berta Weathersbee Elementary cafeteria was abuzz as over 100 dads, moms, and family members gathered to learn about upcoming activities and to spend a morning with their child.
Principal Willie Cooks says the event has been a staple at Berta for at least the past two years, but this year with the change in administration, they decided to add the element of allowing the students to come and eat with their father. Parents who were present to share a donut with their child were excited about the event and grateful for the time spent.
Jeravien Tucker, father of first grader Khamoni Tucker, said. “I didn’t have a dad that did anything with me when I was growing up. I think it’s important to let my daughter know that I am here, that quality time does mean something, and to show that I care.”
Demaret Lewis, father of kindergartener Semaj and second-grader James, said he was impressed with the turnout. Lewis stated, “It starts here, while the kids are young. We lead by example so it is good for these young kids to see all of these positive male examples where fathers are present.”
When asked why he felt it was important to participate in Donuts with Dad, Lewis said, “I want to make sure my kids are present at school and that they read better than I can. I want to see them play sports and do what makes them happy. The only way I can do that is if I am here.”
During the program, Berta alumni and Troup High graduate Travis Blandingburg shared a short message about the importance of family engagement from a father’s perspective. Blandingburg, who is a Safety Manager at Henkel and Associate Pastor at Sunshine Baptist Church in Pine Mountain, Georgia, asked the large crowd who watched The Fresh Prince of BelAir. Hands immediately raised in the air along with chatter and some laughter.
He mentioned an episode from the popular syndicated television show as an example of the importance of fathers being present in the lives of their children. He said, “Do any of you remember the episode when Will Smith’s character anticipated spending time with his father but his father never showed up? You could see the look of disappointment on his face and feel it in his emotions.”
Blandingburg continued by saying, “Fathers, you have to be there for your children. Coming to events like this lets your kid know two things – how important education is and that you are a part of their lives. It also shows that you are there when they need to learn right from wrong and how to be respectful and responsible.”
While the majority of the attendees were fathers, there were many mothers present as well. Kristy Shealey, Berta’s Family Liaison, said it is typical to see mothers present at events highlighting fathers because many of the single mothers feel they fit the title of both mom and dad.
Shealey stated, “Even if our events specifically mention fathers, we have single moms who are both mom and dad. We want them to feel comfortable sharing in this time with their child, too. We also saw fathers who brought uncles, cousins, and grandparents.”
“The purpose of this event is to have parents engaged in their child’s school and learning. Oftentimes, it takes a village to raise a child so it is good to see those who are a part of that village,” said Shealey.
Principal Cooks said he was excited about the turnout and hopes to have the next one in a larger space that could accommodate the huge crowd. He said, “We had an overwhelming response, which is a good problem to have. We thank all the parents who could make this great event and show the kids that we are working together and we are all here for them to succeed.”
About Troup County School System Troup County School System is an accredited educational system with over 11,900 students in grades K-12. TCSS does offer a free Pre-K program at each elementary school. The system is comprised of eleven elementary schools, three middle schools, three high schools, one college and career academy, and one alternative learning center. Students within the school system are taught a rigorous and relevant curriculum that helps them make college and career choices beyond graduation and succeed in life. The system 2017 graduation rate rose 6.6 percentage points in three years to 78.0 percent. To learn more about Troup County School System, visit troup.org and the Troup County School System Facebook page.