Balmoral Elementary School is calling all “big dogs” to serve as male role models for its students as part of the school’s new volunteer initiative. At the K-5 elementary school, there are only three males on staff. Through this initiative, administrators and staff hope to create a stronger male presence in the building to serve as role models for the young students. According to school records, 78% of referrals are from male students. “With only three men in our building on a typical school day, our students don’t have much of an opportunity to interact and develop a connection with their older male counterparts,” said RaShone Franklin, Principal. “Through this program, we are hoping to increase male visibility and make the level of interaction more prevalent. It’s important that our students understand that men care about education.”
Nearly 30 male parents, guardians, and family members volunteered to be “big dogs” hoping they could make a difference in the lives of the students at Balmoral Elementary. The program was deemed the Balmoral Big Dogs on account of the school mascot being the bulldog. The program is unique in that volunteers are not required to fulfill a routine commitment. Participants can volunteer as often as they would like and as their schedule allows. Volunteers are also able to serve in a variety of capacities. They may greet students in the hallways, help in the cafeteria, direct traffic, read and help throughout different classrooms, and assist with the athletic and physical education programs. “We’ve noticed that our students really respond to the male presence in the building especially when they are male substitute teachers or visitors. We find that this attention can be very beneficial for our students. I hope that this program shows our students that men, as well as women, think that learning is important and that the “big dogs” will have a positive impact on our students both in and outside of the classroom,” said Ghantel Perkins, Assistant Principal.
Participants will be required to follow the Crete-Monee School District guidelines for volunteers as well as complete a background check before participating in the Big Dogs volunteer program. The program is scheduled to launch after the holiday season and the students return back to school.