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Million Father March helps local dads get involved in education

Edgefield County School District leaders are trying to get more local dads involved through the Million Father March. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 15, 2011)

News 12 First at Five / Monday, Aug. 15, 2011

JOHNSTON, S.C. -- Edgefield County students are now finished with their first day of school. It's a day about routines: figuring out where to go, when to go there and what to do there.

It may be a lot to ask kids to do after they just spent two months on vacation, but Edgefield County School District leaders are also asking dads to get into a routine: the routine of helping out.

It's a program called the Million Father March, and its goal is to get dads more involved in schools.

"Kids often do better when their fathers are more involved with their personal lives as well as with their academic endeavors," said Johnny Williams, who organized the Edgefield Million Father March.

Dads like Greg Kelly were happy to sign up for the program.

"I'm trying to help out the community and do this for the kids because it's very important to have a male role model," Kelly said.

He said the responsibility of volunteering is important to him.

"Fathers to me, nowadays, don't do enough," Kelly said.

The fathers who pledge to the Million Father March will do lots. They'll volunteer three days out of the year, meet with teachers twice a year and pick up progress reports and report cards.

These things sound simple, but school leaders say dads aren't used to doing those things.

"Typically, you'll see most mothers coming out to the school system," Williams said. "They are the ones bringing the children out. They are the ones, like I said, packing the lunch and doing all those tangible things."

Zenta Stevens is one of the 240 dads who pledged to the Million Father March in Edgefield County.

"You don't want your child's mom taking him to school, and he's like 'Well, where's my dad,' you know? I don't want that for my son," Stevens said.

That's exactly why he pledged to be a good role model.

"I have to show him the way, man, show him how to be a man," Stevens said.

School leaders hope the Million Father March will help show more dads ways to support their kids.

"I think this will just create some opportunities for the fathers also to see that they're needed," Williams said.