This year, I took a position at a Primary campus where I am the only man on the staff. I'm also the first male administrator the campus has had since the 1990's. It has been a wonderful as well as eye-opening experience. Being the only man means that I get called on to take care of situations that the female staff are uncomfortable with. This means everything from teaching boys how to lift a toilet seat to chasing away stray dogs and talking down angry parents.
For many of the children on our campus, there is no positive male influence in their lives. They are raised by mothers or grandmothers and a father or father-figure is simply not in the picture. While I can never replace those men, I hope that my presence and influence will make a difference in their lives. This was brought to my attention this week while talking with a single mother about some personal issues I was helping her son with. Her words hit me like a hammer. "Mr. Quarles, his dad died two years ago and he doesn't have anyone to help him learn how to act like a man." "I try," she said, "but it's not the same. Thank you." It was after this conversation that I realized this is a calling and I am on this campus for a reason.
Knowing I was to be the only man on campus, I knew I needed some help. So, my first request was to start WatchD.O.G.S. At our kickoff, we had over 100 men show up and so far we've had 27 serve at least one day on campus. Most have been here multiple days. Their presence makes my job so much easier and it greatly impacts both the teachers and the students. Children who say they don't like to read will gladly volunteer to read to a WatchDOGS 'dad.' Teachers say their presence and involvement helps kids stay on task. When they are on campus, the number of discipline problems drops. It just amazes me what the presence of a positive male role model can do for kids.
Throughout this year, I have been thoroughly blessed to work with teachers who are caring, nurturing, and knowledgeable about teaching primary school students. I am also learning from a principal who has forgotten more about running a primary school than I'll ever know. Still, at least once a week, someone comes up to me to say how thankful they are to have a man on campus. It could have been any man. I am so blessed it is me!