Cecil H. Parker Elementary Welcomes Male Role Models at ‘Dads Bring Your Child to School’ Breakfast
Cecil H. Parker School’s ‘Dads Bring Your Child to School’ breakfast welcomed male caregivers that provide the familial support and vital connections necessary to the overall achievement of Cecil H. Parker School students in Pre-K through grade 7.
Dozens of ‘dads’—inclusive of grandfathers, godfathers, uncles and any other male role models—gathered in the Cecil H. Parker School cafeteria for breakfast on Wednesday, September 26, 2018. They were welcomed by Superintendent Dr. Kenneth R. Hamilton before digging in to some delicious French toast, scrambled eggs, and other hearty breakfast staples.
During the breakfast, prominent male members of the community, including The Honorable Mayor Richard Thomas; Brother Arthur Muhammad, Mount Vernon Coordinator for My Brother’s Keeper; and Wayne Woodbury, Mount Vernon Youth Bureau Step Up! Program Coordinator addressed the group of dads.
Cecil H. Parker School Principal Natalie Dweck introduced the guest speakers.
“Our community partners are members of this community, grew up in this community, know this community, and have committed themselves to uplifting this community,” she said. “Mr. Woodbury is one of those men. He understands that we cannot exist in a bubble. We have to make sure that we reach out, reach down, and pull up the next one. That’s what Mr. Woodbury is doing with his Step Up! Program here at Cecil H. Parker School.”
The Step Up! Program is district-wide; it’s implemented in all 13 buildings across the City of Mount Vernon. The program addresses the needs of the city’s most at-risk African American and Hispanic male youth through mentoring, youth leadership, job readiness training and public speaking skills.
“Thank you, dads, for being here. You are so important to your sons and daughters,” said Mr. Woodbury. “Our young men need to know that they have a future. They need to know that they can be whatever they want to be. You want to be a teacher, be a teacher. You want to be a principal, go be a principal. Be a lawyer, be a doctor. So, what we do here with the Step Up! program is teach young men the value of themselves—how to love themselves, how to respect themselves, how to have a thought pattern for the future.”
“I am from Mount Vernon. I graduated from this building. I’m also a dad. I’m what they call a ‘pop-up dad.’ I used to show up at my daughters’ school every day unannounced every time. You know what, your child gets a better education when you do that. I encourage you to find out who your son or your daughter’s teacher is, sit in the back of the classroom and see how it changes their behavior, because it will. It will also change your child’s behavior. ‘I don’t know when my dad’s coming in so I better behavior myself.’”
Brother Arthur Muhammad began by asking the group of men to take a pledge, a ‘Father’s Pledge.’ Line by line, they repeated:
As a father, I pledge to show my child how everything in life has a purpose.
As a father, I pledge to show my child that all men are created equal.
As a father, I pledge to show my child the importance of family.
As a father, I pledge to support my child in academics and help them reach new heights beyond their dreams.
As a father, I pledge to show my child the right path when they begin to head down the wrong path.
As a father, I pledge to constantly tell my children how much I love them regardless of how old they get.
As a father, I pledge to demonstrate to my child that all superheroes don’t wear capes and colored uniforms. I am a superhero.
As a father, I pledge to show my child to stand up for what they believe in, even when they have to stand up by themselves.
As a father, I pledge to show my child to always be charitable.
As a father, I pledge to show my child that they have to represent their family’s name.
As a father, I pledge to teach my child the importance of community.
As a father, I pledge to show my child that one day they will become old, so always respect their elders.
As a father, I pledge to take my daughter out on occasional dates so she can fully understand the value of wise decisions when she chooses a mate.
As a father, I pledge to teach my son that every woman they encounter is someone else’s mother, sister, aunt, daughter, grandmother—so respect all women.
As a father, I pledge to always be there for my family, no matter how dire the strings.
“As fathers, we have to analyze ourselves, and if we’re asking our child to be something, then we have to be a product of what we want them to be,” said Brother Arthur Muhammad. “We cannot send mix messages. We cannot say, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ Because in order to be something, you must first see something. So, if they see their father and their mother doing things, they love you and want to imitate you and emulate you. The biggest room in the house is the room for improvement. If we examine ourselves and correct the things that are not right, it will increase the respect and the example we put forth for our child.”
Following their meals, parents were invited to stop into their students’ classrooms.