Donuts for Dads promotes positive role models

By By Nichole Osinski / American Press

With donuts on hand, Combre-Fondel Elementary parents spent an hour Wednesday speaking and listening about the need for strong

father figures.

The school encourages parental involvement with children through the Donuts for Dads program. The twice-a-year meetings are

geared toward the school’s fathers as well as mothers who have needed to take up a father role.

Parents met with school administrators and listened to the Rev. Tim Sensley, guest speaker.

Sensley spoke about growing up without his biological father. He told parents even if they grew up without strong parental

role models, there is no excuse for their children to go through that same cycle.

“I don’t buy into excuses,” he said. “If you know what it felt like to not have your dad there then why are you going to let

your kids feel the same way?”

Sensley’s mother raised him alone until

she remarried when he was in third grade. The only event his biological

father attended

was his graduation. He said children need their parents’ support

by having them attend sports events, graduation, school celebrations

— anything to show their children they care.

Now the father of two daughters,

Sensley told attendees that demonstrating character is one of the most

important aspects

of being a parent. He said all adults are role models and there

needs to be accountability for the positive and negative behavior

to which children are exposed.

“I can’t tell kids to do right when I’m not doing it; we mimic and tend to emulate what we see,” he said. “A father is someone

who’s going to be there and steer you in the right direction.”

Administrative intern Gary Trahan, who

started the program two years ago, said he hopes Donuts for Dads and

companion programs,

such as Dads on Patrol, improve parent-child relationships and

student academics. Dads on Patrol was set up to bring in more

father figures in the school. Parents sign up for an allotted time

during the week to walk the halls, giving encouragement

and assisting students if there is a need.

Trahan said another goal the school wants to achieve through the parent programs is to improve the overall academic success

of the school. Combre-Fondel is currently a D-rated school, which is considered failing.

“We’re trying to raise that level of grading from a D to a C and eventually a B,” said Trahan. “We believe if we can increase

parental participation we believe we can increase academic performance.”

Combre-Fondel is also a Title I school and, according to Trahan, mandated to have more family-oriented events to bring in

parents to further student education.

Attendee Derick Lewis said he was at the meeting to support his daughter, a second-grader, while also meeting with other parents

to make a better future for their children.

“One of the most important things to help these children is to support them,” he said. “I think we as parents in general need

to come together to do whatever we can to be a better benefit our children.”