‘Here to offer a friendly face:’ Dads volunteer mornings at TIS
Published 10:02 am Tuesday, October 20, 2015
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – Rows of Thompson Intermediate School students sat silently while reading in the school’s gym on the morning of Oct. 20, the only occasional sound coming in the form of a friendly “Good morning” near the building’s entrance.
As students – some of who were looking a bit sleepy-eyed – got off their buses, they quickly perked up when they were greeted by TIS dad Jermaine Woods in his bright red vest.
“We’re here to offer a friendly face, smile and greet kids as they come in. We want to tell them to have a good day,” Woods said. “Last week was our first week doing this, and we’ve had a good showing so far.”
Woods was among several fathers who have been a regular presence in the school over the past several weekdays.
Each morning, usually well before students arrive, the fathers don the red vests bearing “TIS Warrior Watchdogs” nametags. The DOG in the name stands for “Dads of Great Students.”
“We are just here to interact with the kids and give them a friendly face when they walk into the door,” said Bill Bauer, who was manning the school’s front entrance. “I have two girls in the school system, so it’s nice to get to interact with my kids and their friends and the faculty and staff that takes care of them when I’m not around.”
TIS Principal Brent Byars started the group after seeing a similar group in Tuscaloosa.
“We’re just trying to find a way to get dads involved. Studies show that 50 percent of students come from a household where the father is not actively involved in the child’s education,” Byars said.
For TIS dad Conway Todhunter, who was helping in the school’s lunchroom on Oct. 20, the group already seems to be hitting its mark.
“The idea is to have some way of getting fathers more involved here at the school. It’s a way for dads to be present and active,” Todhunter said. “It’s rewarding, and my son thinks it’s cool to see me here.”