EAST ORANGE, NJ — When the East Orange Schools reopened Thursday, Sept. 8, East Orange Recreation Department Director Osner Charles and a host of men from the community were at the front doors of schools across the city to greet the returning students.
This effort by the men of the community was part of what the East Orange School District has referred to as its “Calling All Men 2016” effort, a call for men to bring their children to school to meet and greet teachers and become involved with their children’s education. It’s also in support of the ongoing efforts by Mayor Lester Taylor III to promote urban excellence in East Orange and its transformation into a destination city.
“The Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs organized the walk,” Charles said Monday, Sept. 12. “Research shows, and I believe the more involved fathers or father figures are in child’s life, the more successful that child will be. A father or father figure’s influence can determine a child’s social life, grades at school and future achievements.
“The Fathers Walk is to recognize and show appreciation for the fathers that play an active role in their children’s lives and to encourage others to be more active,” continued Charles. “As a father, I find it to be very rewarding and fulfilling. The Fathers Walk is also used as a day to celebrate not only the father but the children.”
Charles said the proof of the importance of the event are the looks on the children’s faces when they show up for school escorted by the important male in their lives.
“The children get so excited to hear us clapping for them and their dads,” said Charles. “We wish them an excellent day in school and more excellent days throughout the school year. And that is what the standard is for this administration — urban excellence.”
The mayor agreed with Osner’s assessment.
“The Calling All Men event marks the beginning of the new school year, but it is actually a continuation of an ongoing partnership between the city, community organizations and the men who are fathers and father figures in East Orange,” Taylor said Sunday, Sept. 18. “It also helps to galvanize men for our upcoming Father’s Conference, which will be on Saturday, Oct. 15, at Cicely Tyson Community School. The theme is, ‘The Many Faces of Fatherhood’ and the conference will address myriad issues and challenges of being a father in 2016.”