Me and My Dad

Hector Rodriguez eats with his daughters, Aaliyah, front, and Jocelyn

Hector Rodriguez sat with his daughters, Jocelyn, a kindergartner, and Aaliyah, a fifth-grader, munching on breakfast sandwiches and sipping juice.

Marcus Patterson arrives with his daughter Naomi, a kindergartner

“I wish Pappi was here for us all day!”Jocelyn said.

Rodriguez said he, too, wished he could stay all day at Southwood Elementary School, because attending the annual Bring Your Fathers to School Day is a special time. “It’s something I love doing for them,” he said. “I like coming to these things to be there for my kids. I like to be there for them as much as possible.”

The fourth annual event brought more than 1,000 dads, uncles, grandfathers and other male role models to the district’s 10 elementary schools to enjoy breakfast with their children, listen to speakers and celebrate paternal involvement. At Southwood alone, more than 200 male guests attended.

Business owner Cory Davis, a 2001 East Kentwood High School graduate, speaks of his priority to be part of his daughter’s life and support her education

Principal Jeff Overkleeft said involved fathers have a huge positive impact on children’s lives, including behavior, attendance and grades. “It directly impacts their academic success,” he said.

“I think the message that we continue to hear and see is it’s important to have parents and fathers engaged in students’ education,” said Michael Pickard, the district’s executive director of elementary instruction and federal programs.

This year’s theme was leaving a legacy for your child. Speakers were local business owners whose lives were impacted by parents, teachers or other role models.

Before the event, dad Michael Parks walked into school with his daughter, Mya, a fifth-grader.

“It’s just fun to spend time with him,” Mya said.


National Fatherhood Initiative

Cassidy Connolly attends with nephews Jonny Capps, a fifth-grader, and Tristin Capps, a third-grader
Michael and Mya Parks arrive for Bring Your Fathers to School Day
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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


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