Malik Shakur said he was so inspired by the participation at the Prince George’s County School System’s annual “Men Make a Difference Day” on Monday that he is seriously considering joining the PTSA at his son’s school, John Hanson Montessori School in Oxon Hill.
Shakur, an attorney who is scheduled to be in court later this week, said he planned to clear his calendar after learning during the event that the school was hosting a career day on Friday.
Shakur was one of about 125 fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and others at John Hanson who participated in the annual countywide event, which brings fathers and other male role models into the classroom to promote parental involvement in public schools.
“I just love this,” said Shakur, who lives in Fort Washington and attended to support his son, Chani, 5. “I wasn’t expecting such a large turnout.”
Principal Katrina Pinder had one word to describe watching the men socialize over breakfast in the school’s multi-purpose room: “Awesome.”
“I just want to make sure they get a sense that they are a welcome part of this family,” Pinder said. “That they are welcome to come back not just on a special day like this, but on any day.”
Shakur and the others were joined by County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) who stopped by John Hanson to thank the men for spending time with the students on Monday and encouraging them to make visiting the school a part of their routine.
“It is so important, not just for African American and Latino children,” Baker said about men participating in a child’s education. “It’s important for all children. It is important that we send a message that we care.”
The event is the brainchild of Michael Robinson, who started the program six years ago and once served as director of the school system’s parental engagement and community outreach. Robinson continues to work with the school system to put the event together.
This year, 20 schools throughout the county participated in the program. School and parent groups planned numerous events, including breakfast, classroom visits, basketball games and fitness challenges.
Jesse Griffin of Clinton said the event showed what is rarely seen in the media - black men who are good parents and good role models.
“They say we don’t support, that we don’t come together,” he said. “It couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Dwight Pearson of the District and Edward E. Miller of Oxon Hill nodded in agreement. Pearson and Miller were supporting their grandchildren.
“It makes me feel better to see all these men,” Miller said.
Steps away from Miller was his son-in-law, Curtis Valentine, who is a member of the county school board and the father of two students at John Hanson.
Valentine told the men that the community plays a larger role in a child’s future than the time they spend at school, comparing the time children spend in school with the amount of time spent at home and in their neighborhoods.
“It’s up to us to step up,” he said.
Before the men left the multi-purpose room to visit their child’s classrooms, members of the PTSA encouraged them to attend the school’s Fall Cleanup and to like and follow the school on social media to get the latest updates about events.
Shakur said his wife works with the PTA at his children’s other school. It is probably time he became a member at John Hanson, he said.