• Bill Raines

FATHERS IN THE CLASSROOMS


I’ve inhabited this planet for quite some time. And, it’s only natural for culture to take an impactful twist and turn over six decades. As some of my younger friends prepare to send their children back to school, I’ve noted a dramatic evolution at the elementary level. I haven’t conducted a scientific survey, but it appears currently there are far more women teachers than men instructors in the early grades. My first five homeroom teachers were women, yet men played a pivotal role in my early development. Don Dannheiser was my go-to guy, and Larry Williams also served as a positive role model. Tank Wilson, a military guy and stern disciplinarian, taught physical education, while Jack Hasenmyer, my eighth-grade homeroom teacher, offered solid suggestions that smoothed my transition to high school. These guys were family men and dedicated educators. Don’t get the wrong idea, my most memorable - and helpful - elementary teacher was June Bailey, the inspiration for my career as a writer. There’s no doubt I would be a different person today if not for the direction provided by those male teachers. I respected them implicitly and aspired to model myself after them. A few months ago former Colts head coach Tony Dungy was criticized for supporting legislation in Florida. The “Responsible Fatherhood” bill provides funds for mentoring and one-on-one support efforts. Critics labeled Dungy an “apologist” and “political prop.” Dungy was neither distracted nor discouraged. “President Obama said the same things,” he recalled. “I am serving the Lord so I’ll keep supporting dads and families.“ Children growing up without a father are more likely to live in poverty, commit crimes, drop out of school, and wind up in the prison system. When I retired a few years ago I offered this unsolicited advice to some of my friends in education: We need a class in respect, kindness, and accountability. No one should advance until they pass this class. Food for thought. Bob Bridge welcomes comments at 812-276-9646 or bbbbbridge@gmail.com.

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