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Member Kudos: Fathers and Men Engaged, Genesee ISD

2018 Education Excellence Award Recipient

DashBoard, April 25, 2018

The 25 recipients of the 2018 MASB/SET SEG Foundation Education Excellence Awards are some of the greatest examples of unique and innovative public school programs in the state of Michigan. Over the next few months, MASB will share the details of each program from their applications, presented in alphabetical order by district. This week we highlight the Fathers and Men Engaged program at Genesee ISD.

Genesee ISD FAME Program participants

History/Purpose of Program: Genesee ISD operates Head Start in Flint Community Schools, Beecher Community Schools and Carman Ainsworth Community Schools serving 1,475 children and their families. GISD also serves 168 infants/toddlers and their families in the City of Flint through Early Head Start.

A key component for improving child outcomes in our early childhood programs is to engage with parents and caregivers as they are essential to their child’s success in school and their overall well-being. When parents and caregivers are engaged in their child’s early learning, children and families thrive. This growth can bring positive change to neighborhoods and communities.

To enhance the family engagement component of our early childhood programs, GISD developed an initiative to engage fathers and men in the growth, development and education of their children and children in their care. This initiative is called FAME—Fathers and Men Engaged, and is in its fifth year of operation.

FAME provides opportunities for fathers and men to become actively involved in their child’s education to improve outcomes for their child, family and community. FAME also provides resources for fathers to learn to be a nurturing father, an active co-parent, and a positive role model in their neighborhood and community.

Program Impact: The FAME program is built on our staff’s understanding of the importance of family engagement and the valuable contributions fathers can make in their child’s early education. Staff have received training on how to successfully engage fathers in the educational process. 

Genesee ISD FAME Program participants

Research shows that children are more likely to be successful if both parents are actively engaged in their child’s education and life. FAME has created an environment in our centers that is welcoming to mothers as well as fathers, grandparents, extended family, guardians etc. This environment is the first trusting relationship between school staff and families. The goal is to build a positive mindset for school involvement for families, with an emphasis on fathers. 

The FAME program has been involved in many projects throughout the community. An example of this is the FAME “Tie and Belt” drive, which placed collection boxes throughout our community to collect ties and belts. These items are then made available for our FAME men seeking employment, furthering their education, or setting the example of “dressing for success.” Our staff work with fathers on employability skills, interview skills and will assist with transportation. 

The FAME program has also hosted a parenting education program, Real Talk, for the past three years with much success. Real Talk follows the Nurturing Fathers Curriculum, which consists of 12 lessons that address a variety of topics critical to developing the skills needed to be a nurturing father and healthy co-parenting relationships. This program introduces topics that many fathers have never had conversations about. This is important in developing life skills that include listening, identifying and sharing feelings, and accepting the feelings of others. Fathers who have completed this program show improvement in their critical thinking and problem solving. These lessons are valuable beyond the realm of parenting and can contribute to their success in all personal relationships with others.

The FAME program has been successful in demonstrating to fathers, the importance of being a positive role model for their child and those in their community. FAME has hosted the Annual Basketball Challenge for the past three years. This event involves fathers from our Head Start centers playing in a friendly, yet competitive, game of basketball. The game was attended by more than 250 people who were there to cheer the fathers on to victory. Leading up to the game, the men meet together for two practice sessions where staff discusses team work, being a positive role model for their children and children in the community, and how to have fun in a competitive environment. Children love to see their fathers playing basketball, having fun and demonstrating true sportsmanship.

In all that FAME provides for children, fathers and families, leadership is the common thread throughout the program. Fathers are encouraged to be involved in their child’s education, share in the leadership responsibilities in their home, and to become leaders in their community by being a positive role model in their own neighborhoods for children who may not have that positive role model.

Genesee ISD FAME Program participants

How Grant Will Be Used: FAME plans to expand our programming to reach more fathers. To kick off the school year, FAME has participated in a national initiative called the Million Father March. This initiative set a national goal for more than one million fathers/men to be at school for their child’s first day. The GISD FAME program had 495 fathers bring their child to school on Sept. 19, 2017. 

We would like to continue to increase our numbers for this event by providing activities for fathers to do with their child on this day. 
As a follow up to the Million Father March, FAME has introduced a project called Tuesdays Together, which will set aside Tuesday as a special day for fathers to spend some time with their child in the classroom. For this project, we would like to offer an activity and snack for children and fathers/men to enjoy. Having men in the classroom engaged in activities is valuable to all children.

GISD and FAME offer a variety of sports programs for children and parents. The summer sports program is called FACES of Flint—Families and Children Engaged in Sports. The summer sports program attracts many fathers and men. At our t-ball and soccer events, children are taught the very basic skills of the sport. Parents are actively involved in the activity and many fathers/men step forward to engage in teaching children these skills. For the parents, these activities teach patience, how to encourage children, how to be supportive. At the conclusion of the summer sports programs, there is a celebration event that includes fun t-ball and soccer activities and a picnic lunch. We want to continue providing this experience for children and families.

In addition to t-ball and soccer, FAME would like to offer Bitty Ball Basketball for our Head Start children; this activity also involves parent participation. The Bitty Ball participants will demonstrate their skills at halftime of the FAME Basketball Challenge. The Basketball Challenge is an event that demonstrates positive parenting and social interactions. By involving children in this event, there will be more opportunities for fathers to model positive interactions. We plan to continue with the success of this program for children and their families.

GISD FAME is planning to host our first annual resource event for fathers in our community. The event will be called “Welcome to the Hall of FAME” Fathers and Men Engaged—for children, families and communities. This event will bring together community resources, community leaders, local entertainment and food to create an atmosphere of positive change for fathers and men, their children, their families and our community. Topics will include Parenting and Co-Parenting Education, Adult Education, Employment, Skilled Trades Programs, Small Business Development, Transportation, Substance Abuse, Mental Health, Physical Health, Dental Health, Friend of the Court, Paternity Establishment, Financial Stability, DHHS, Faith-Based Partnerships and other community resources.

Program Coordinator: Tricia Hill, Executive Director of Center for Countywide Programs, tlhill@geneseeisd.org

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