Camp Foster dads making a difference in Zucheran class
Stars and Stripes March 19, 2008
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The parent who volunteers in the classroom is typically the mom.
But that is not the case this year, said a Sure Start teacher at Zucheran Elementary School on Camp Foster.
“It’s the dads who are making a difference” in her classroom, teacher Louise Thompson said.
Sure Start is a program for 4-year-olds that prepares them for kindergarten. At Zucheran, the program requires both parents to volunteer in their child’s classroom for 30 hours a school year — about four hours a month.
But this year fathers have gone “way above and beyond” in their commitment, Thompson said.
“I get to interact with the kids and I get to spend more time with my daughter,” said Francis Pereira, 24, a stay-at-home dad married to a Marine sergeant. He volunteers three to four times a week in Thompson’s class.
Thompson said having Pereira and other fathers in her classroom teaches her students a valuable lesson.
“Kids are so used to having moms nag them about homework and school stuff, so they know that their moms think that school is important,” she said. “Having dads around helps kids realize that education is important to men, as well.”
It’s about being a positive role model, said Staff Sgt. LeFonz Clark, 31, with Combat Logistics Regiment 35. He is showing his daughter and the other students “that not only women, but guys can be involved, too,” he said.
Having men present for the children whose own fathers are deployed is another added benefit, Thompson said.
“It’s so nice to have a dadaround for children to talk to,” she said. “For them to be able to sit down and hear a malevoice reading or singing with them.”
Pereira said he also sees his role as a stay-at-home dad as an important balance of how these kids will view male and female roles.
He’s said being there “breaks down a lot of the stereotypes.”