Emma Hutchinson Elementary teacher Hau Nguyen poked his head into a classroom filled students, smiled at the police officer leading their discussion and then darted off to the next room. Typically, he is the one discussing Georgia Performance Standards with the assembled group of third- through fifth-graders. Instead, Nguyen and other male faculty members were coordinating the fourth-annual Boyz to Men Summit.
This highly anticipated event allows male third- through fifth-graders to attend group sessions led by local pilots, police officers, high school and college students. In addition to focusing on Georgia Performance Standards for math and science, the sessions allow young men to discuss issues such as peer pressure, responsibility and charting a path to success.
Chief Joel Baker, interim fire chief for Atlanta Fire Rescue, set the tone by challenging students to reach for their dreams during the opening assembly.
“I was a little boy who had a dream but could barely read,” he said of his desire to become a fire chief. “I had to defy the odds that say a young man who cannot read or write and comes from a single-parent home can’t make it.”
Baker shared his journey as struggling student who went on to earn a master’s degree from Columbus State University. Then he asked third-grader Marshall Jackson to share his career goals. Jackson said he wanted to be a singer, so Baker offered the microphone.
In front of a rapt audience, Marshall sang a few verses of “Give Love on Christmas” and earned enthusiastic cheers from a crowd filled with teachers, students and parents such as Omar Taylor Sr., who attended the summit with his son, second-grader Omar Taylor Jr.
“Its important for me to be active in his life and instill goals in him,” Taylor said. “This program is helpful for boys. They are not put in enough situations to show what they can do.”
In February, the young ladies of Hutchinson celebrate their day.