We Are DeKalb County School District Winter 2018 - Page 22

The Magic of Men His organization works with a half dozen schools in the district today. He says the ready engagement of the D.A.D.S. group in Region 5 points out something unique about DeKalb. “There tends to be an eagerness to include dads here that I have not seen in other districts,” Braswell says. “Elsewhere, we have to do more convincing that the notion of engaging dads is important. We’re coming across more folks here who want to be involved.” Women across the district appear to be fully endorsing male role models for schools. “It’s another difference we’ve seen in DeKalb, a thing that’s really beautiful,” says Braswell. “Women here are really excited about dads being engaged. That’s not the case in some other places we’ve worked.” Braswell explains that the motivation of men to engage with students comes down to one thing. “Guys love intimacy with their children,” he says. “When you create a space of intimacy with children, men become more deeply engaged … and there’s no act more intimate than reading to kids. Nothing we see has compelled the engagement of fathers in the academic relationships of their children like reading.” Words work a kind of magic. “Reading lets a dad bring a piece of capital to the table without finances,” 22 | We Are DCSD Magazine Braswell says. “It’s a huge thing for a dad who might be unemployed or underemployed and unable to provide fuller resources. Even if he can’t do any of that, he can bring intimacy. Reading programs create a space for that.” Purkett-Brown insists another kind of magic takes place when dads and male caretakers show up in DCSD schools. “The magic is the men,” she says. “The presence a man brings into the classroom is just electric. When men came out to schools to read as part of the Million Father March initiative, it made a magical presence in the classrooms. When a man walked in with a book, his sheer presence made the kids excited. You could see smiles on their faces and hear them saying I hope he’s coming to my classroom.” The magic of manpower is working in the district. Consider those little libraries that the D.A.D.S. built. “They’re really being put to use,” says Purkett-Brown. “It’s been hard to keep books in them, the kids read so much.”