Fathers and significant male caregivers showed up in numbers at school campuses across the territory on Tuesday to celebrate the annual “Dads, Take Your Child to School” Day, a national movement to encourage father involvement in education.
The initiative, which was implemented to help fathers and father figures increase their involvement in their children’s education, was spearheaded by V.I. Access and Visitation – an arm of the Department of Justice’s Paternity and Child Support Division (PCSD) – in collaboration with the Department of Education.
Fathers, grandfathers, uncles, godfathers, stepfathers and other male guardians proudly took their children to their various schools and were warmly welcomed by school staff as they entered the premises. They gladly participated in school activities to experience firsthand what a typical school day is like for their children.
Ivan Williams, who accompanied his goddaughter to school at the Calvary Christian Academy, said, “I actually went into the classroom and met some of her classmates and talked to the teachers.”
“I think it’s something that if you all could continue to do, go ahead and do it,” said Williams.
Sen. Athneil ‘Bobby’ Thomas, although not a school parent, got in on the action. “I went to Joseph Gomez Elementary (my alma mater) and asked the first child I saw coming to school without a dad if I could walk her to class. Thankfully, Nadia Jones accepted,” Thomas said.
“Nadia has a great family, but her dad is in the British Virgin Islands where she visits frequently. We went straight to the office where Principal Skelton greeted us and sent us on our way up the stairs with the freshly-painted railings. We made it to an awesome 4th grade class headed by Ms. Gavito, whom all the children love. It was a great visit to the class…” Thomas said.
Dozens of men participated in the event and captured the momentous occasion on camera for posterity.
PCSD Director Terrence Joseph was pleased with the turnout of men. “I just want to thank all the fathers who participated in the “Dads, Take Your Child to School” Day,” Joseph said. “It was an excellent showing of fathers being there and taking their children to school. We want to thank you on behalf of the Department of Justice’s Paternity and Child Support Division.”
The men who submitted photographs will each be awarded a certificate of participation and will also be presented with backpacks for their children. The special day is one in a series of events hosted by V.I. Access and Visitation as it continues its focus in creating a world where every child has a 24/7 dad.”
In August, hundreds of children territory-wide benefited from backpack giveaways organized by V.I. Access and Visitation/PCSD and Making A Difference VI. Approximately 3,000 students on St. Croix and about 700 pupils in the St. Thomas/St. John District received backpacks loaded with much-needed school supplies – books, pens, pencils and highlighters – to support families as they prepared for the new academic year that began on Sept. 3.
“The participation of “Making A Difference VI” in the backpack giveaway was very instrumental in the success of that event,” Director Joseph said.