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Dads amping up volunteer efforts at elementary school with new program

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When a father wanted to volunteer at his child’s school, Mike Metzger saw two options.

Dads could arrange games for a school carnival or direct parking at a school event.

Metzger, Isom Elementary School’s PTO president, wants dads to do more than help at a school carnival.

In February, he will kick off an All Pro Dad chapter at the school, with the hope of giving dads more involvement in their children’s schools and provide bonding time for children and fathers.

“The biggest role that fathers push for is arranging games or parking cars,” Metzger said. “(This) is a school that can greatly benefit from it (a chapter).”

All-Pro Dad is a national, NFL-endorsed program where students and their dads share a breakfast once a month and learn to spend time together. Dads can get parenting tips from a blog run by Tony Dungy and learn how to get involved in their children’s education.

Chapters have come and gone in Johnson County, and 83 are active in Indiana. Currently, the county’s only active chapter is at Sugar Grove Elementary.

Metzger said he realized Isom needed a group after seeing a lack of participation by fathers in some school activities. He was one of a small percentage of dads who would attend school activities, he said.

He only saw one or two fathers show up for parent-teacher conferences. Often, Metzger was one of one or two fathers who would show up to a PTO meeting. He thought fathers needed an activity at school that was geared toward them, he said.

“There is probably a bigger need for fathers to be actively involved,” he said. “There are only positives to being involved.”

When his neighbor, a school principal, started chatting with him about All-Pro Dad, Metzger decided Isom Elementary School needed a chapter.

“This can open the door for them to get more involved,” Metzger said.

When the Sugar Grove club meets, fathers and children often overflow the room, principal Davin Harpe said.

Children will see that their father is interested in school and will take the same interest themselves, Harpe said.

“One of the biggest reasons why I love to see our dads at the breakfasts is that just by being here, our dads are showing our kids that school is important,” he said.

Metzger remembers that his dad was involved in school. Those memories stuck with him as an adult, he said.

He wanted his own children to have those same experiences.

“I remembered that stuff,” Metzger said. “I take my children’s education pretty seriously.”

All it takes is about 45 minutes once a month.

All-Pro Dad chapters follow a curriculum. Dads and their children attend a breakfast together at the monthly meeting and are challenged with activities.

For example, dads are given challenge cards where they can complete an item, such as have lunch with their child at school once that month. Children can answer a questionnaire, such as something they learned from their father that month. Dads can share with their children a reason why they made them proud that month.

The chapter will have its first meeting in February.

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