Forest Park ES Boys Gaining Confidence

Forest Park ES Boys Gaining Confidence
Posted on 05/11/2018

Group of boys at confidence building trainingElbows off the table. Sit up straight. Greet everyone with a handshake. Make eye contact. Work as a team. These are life lessons that sometimes are taken for granted and lacking in young adults. So two teachers at Forest Park Elementary School in Boynton Beach put together a club that would polish up the social skills and will make their male students stand out.

“We are taking these boys and turning them in to gentlemen,” said David Katz, fourth grade teacher and club co-adviser of the Gentlemen’s Club.

The fourth and fifth graders in the club wear ties every Tuesday, are expected to tuck in their shirts, and be accountable for their behavior. Miss a meeting? The young man must meet with the club’s advisers, learn about what he missed and write an essay about what that lesson meant to him. Have a discipline issue in school? Besides the school’s response, the young men must report to the teachers and could be kept out of attending or removed altogether.

Katz and his fellow forth grade teacher and adviser Michael Webber identified a group of boys to start the club after seeing that some of their students could some extra attention with speaking properly, behaving, showing manners or building confidence and invited them to join the group that meets after school every other Tuesday.

“It makes me feel proud being part of this group,” said Madelson Charles. “I used to play around a lot, but I’ve stopped.”

After just a few meetings, the boys now greet visitors to the club with a handshake and small talk. They say, “yes, sir” when asked questions. They sit at their desks with their hands folded and are engaged in the lessons.

The boys have learned proper table settings and appropriate behavior during a meal. Recently the group met over sandwiches and cake. Each boy had to set his place setting  with fork, knife and cup and then politely ask for their classmates to pass the items while they nicely assembled their meals and ate using utensils while also making conversation with their classmates.

“Now I tell my brother to put his napkin in his lap when we have dinner,” said Ayden Davis.

The advisers have plans for lessons on teamwork, holding conversations, confidence building and are also hoping to get some guest speakers to come meet with the boys and serve as role models for why these lessons are so important. Big plans include hopes of a field trip to expose the boys to situations where their manners and maturity matter.

The plans are big, but the budget has been limited. Katz and Webber aren’t only giving their time, but they are using their own money to fund the club, including buying each of the students a crisp white dress shirt and tie so they could greet Florida’s First Lady Ann Scott when she visited a school. “I got to hold the door open for her,” Charles said.

Once news got out about the club and what they are hoping to achieve for these boys, the community responded. Donations have been coming and the teachers have been able to expand the club from its 15 original members to 29 members in just a month.

“They are setting an example to other students in the school,” Katz said. “Now we have boys who are asking to be part of the club.”