What do you get when you combine good food, more than 300 good dudes and good reading and writing tools? The answer is simple. You get Manning Early Childhood Center's event "Dine with Dudes." For the past three Wednesday mornings, MECC's cafeteria and classrooms have been bustling with male visitors, all with one purpose in mind: to support their MECC student.
"We host this event because it gives us the opportunity to welcome father figures and other family members into our school so they can see the great things their children are doing," said Jamie Stokes, assistant principal.
For years, MECC has hosted an annual event for dads to come have breakfast with their children called Donuts for Dads, but this year it took a different spin to include not just dads, but also all father figures who are actively involved in the students' lives to recognize the variety of family units in the school community.
"We wanted to show that we value all the different kinds of families we have in our school, including families where there is not the typical 'dad,'" Stokes said. "By using the term 'dudes,' we can highlight all father figures, including uncles, older brothers, grandfathers, stepdads, family friends, mentors and many others."
"Dine with Dudes" is not just an opportunity to enjoy a wonderful breakfast, but also an opportunity to showcase what MECC's students are doing in the classroom and to provide families with information on academic skills and strategies. After breakfast, the "dudes" visited classrooms to participate in learning activities. PreK teachers modeled how to read books aloud and have conversations about books. K5 teachers facilitated the importance of reading together by providing books for families to read with their children. First-grade students and teachers shared writing samples to for their special "dudes." "Dudes" were also provided with a flier on how to make reading at home fun and meaningful.
"At MECC, we understand and value family members as their child's first teacher," Stokes said. "It takes us all working together to help our children succeed, so these events help us make the connection between learning at home and at school."
For any "dude" who missed the event, grade-level videos will be posted on the school website and Facebook page to highlight literacy skills to use when reading to children at home. In addition, all MECC parents and guardians should know that MECC's doors are always open for visits.
"All parents and guardians are always welcome to join their children for breakfast and lunch," Principal Otis Reed said. "They are also welcome to accompany their children in class and observe them during instructional time. We just ask that conferences be scheduled with teachers to discuss their child's performance in order to protect instructional time."