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  • Last modified 20 days ago (Nov. 2, 2017)

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Dads go back to school to help students

Staff writer

When Scott Thornhill joined his son, Arthur, in class Thursday as part of a program bringing fathers and father figures into schools, Arthur was not at a loss for words to describe the experience.

“A fun day,” Arthur said. “Fun, awesome, special, rare.”

Thornhill spent the day volunteering at Marion Elementary School, where Arthur is a fourth grade student.

“He gets to stay with me, help me in school, make sure I got problems right, and help do assignments,” Arthur said.

Larry Ensey joined his granddaughter, Abree, in her third grade class.

She said it was fun to have her grandfather at school with her.

“A lot of things (were fun),” Abree said. “Getting to eat lunch with him, going to PE with him, and him helping me with math.”

“No, she helps Grandpa with math,” Larry Ensey said.

At the school Thursday, Thornhill and Ensey were two Watch D.O.G.S., which stands for Dads Of Great Students. The volunteer program is an initiative to bring more male role models into elementary schools.

The program is a nationwide educational initiative of the National Center For Fathering and has included 6,450 schools since its creation in 1998.

October was the program’s first month in Marion, and eight men had participated as of Thursday. School counselor Kris Burkholder said another 50 are signed up to volunteer at least one day in a classroom this year, and more can join in January.

“The whole idea is to get more father involvement in the schools and to get more male role models for elementary students,” Burkholder said.

Marion Elementary School has just two male full-time faculty members, principal Justin Wasmuth and fifth grade teacher Tyler McMichael. The district-wide music teachers are also men.

“That’s the only male adults that our kids have interaction with,” Burkholder said.

The program is open to any adult male, even if there is no elementary student in the family. Dads, grandpas, and uncles are participating so far.

Watch D.O.G.S. volunteer at least one day at the elementary school, helping watch over recess, eating with students during lunch duty, listening to students read to them, studying flash cards with students who need extra help, and other school activities. Dads spend part of the day in their own child’s classroom.

“The kids love it, and it gets dads into the schools so you know what good things are happening at the school,” Burkholder said.

Thornhill helped Arthur with schoolwork.

“The stuff that they were going over today was the stuff I remember doing when I was a kid,” Thornhill said. “The same rules, the same math facts. They were described a little bit differently, but they were the same concepts.

“I remembered some of it from looking at his homework when he brings it home and helping him with that. It was still pretty fresh, but actually hearing here’s the rule for math, I learned it as the 10s column, as opposed to the mystery zero — different term for the same idea.”

A grade level higher, Ensey helped Abree with word problems in math, as well as with reading and spelling.

Abree said math is her favorite class, but eating lunch together “was the fun part.”

“I’ve enjoyed spending the day with Abree and getting to know some of her classmates,” Ensey said. “It’s just good to be around and get to know the kids and talk with them.”

He said he spent half of his eighth grade year in 1960 in the same school building before it was expanded.

“I think it’s a good idea to have this program,” Ensey said. “I think it’s pretty neat.”

Arthur said his dad helped him in PE, math, social studies, and recess. Thornhill even joined Arthur’s soccer team.

“I didn’t score any goals, but I helped keep some from happening,” Thornhill said. “(Arthur) scored goals. He did all the running.”

Arthur was also doing the work in the classroom.

“I enjoyed watching what the kids were doing, and the big difference would be I didn’t have the work,” Thornhill said. “I wasn’t the one doing the heavy lifting. (Arthur) was.”

Arthur finished his homework at school Thursday, and with no classes Friday, he had a three-day weekend.

Thornhill said he would volunteer again if he can work it out with his work schedule.

“It’s really cool being able to come into this school, and not only being here for Arthur, but having other kids say ‘do you know the answer to this question’ and looking up to another adult for assistance or encouragement,” he said.

Last modified Nov. 2, 2017

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