Open Phones: Dads in Schools

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yesterday we talked about volunteering in schools, and promised to give fathers a chance to call in and talk about the work they do. Here's their chance!

Do you man the bake sale (literally)? What kind of work do you see fathers doing in schools? Is it different from mothers? Comment below!

Comments [13]


Ok. I'm trying to understand why volunteering dads needed their own call-in show. There's no question that mothers make up the vast majority of school volunteer committees, and all the mothers working in my sons school also work full time outside the home. Yes, we want fathers to participate, but my husband is frequently the only dad (or one of two) to show up at PTA meetings. This kind of ego stroking is really eye-rolling.

Dec. 17 2009 07:27 AM
Norm from The Village

hi there - I love volunteering at my son, Julian's school. He goes to the Aaron School, a private, alternative school across from the UN. I made sweet potato casserole for the Thanksgiving Party, and I am making waffles for the end of the year party before the Holidays.

I accompanied them to the Park, and I read to the class, and I gave a Chanukkah presentation in which I lit candles and read a story.

I love the atmosphere of the school ( I used to be a teacher) and although the volunteers are mostly women, I do bond with them and chat with them and I have a special inside thing going with the dads who do show up.

Dec. 16 2009 12:08 PM
Daphna from The Upper West Side

I believe it was in the book Raising Cane where my husband and I read that the best indicator of how a child would do in school was whether or not a child's father attends PTA meetings. Since reading that, my husband and I have had the running joke that all he really needs to do to help the kids do well in school is "just show up at the meeting."

Dec. 16 2009 11:57 AM
ANON4this from

For decades men ran the offices and women ran the schools. There was a revolution in the offices and now we are seeing one in the schools.

I was a breakthrough dad in PTA, girl scouts, etc. and I never take the double takes personally.

There is much pettiness and politicking and I think men are not so interested in it. Obviously that is an unPC statement but if you could see what I see...

Dec. 16 2009 11:55 AM
John Tucker from Park Slope


I volunteer at PS 321 by teaching kids about food - taste, source, health, trips to greenmarket, lunch at my restaurant. It's amazing. The kids love it and so do I.

Dec. 16 2009 11:54 AM
Lucy Tullo from Montville NJ

I'm a mom, President of my kids Home & School Assoc. Every year in the fall we have Dad's Volunteer Day. It's an entire day dedicated to having dad's come in and volunteer all over the school. In the classroom, at lunch, drop off and pick up and we run a walk-a-thon fundraiser that the dad's help run. We had so many dad's volunteer this year we almost ran out of things to do.

Dec. 16 2009 11:53 AM
John Tucker from Park Slope


I volunteer by doing a program called Days of Taste at PS 321. As a restaurateur I work with fourth graders teaching them about food - taste, source, health, etc. The kids love exploring food through tasting, field trips to Greenmarkets, having lunch at my resto. It's incredibly gratifying.

Dec. 16 2009 11:52 AM
Jersey Jeff from Rahway, NJ

Last year I volunteered at one of those schools "down the road" schools mentioned in Ms. Olen's article where my son was a kindergartener. Even though the school is in our very blue-collar, working class town, we had plenty of volunteers, and while most of the volunteers were women, I was never made to feel excluded because I am a guy.
In fact, I volunteered every Thursday for my son's computer class because I worked down the street from his school and spent my lunch hour there. I knew a few of his classmates didn't have a father at home, and seeing their eyes light up and their enthusiasm to show me their most recent accomplishments on the PC made every Thursday a very special day for me and the class.

Dec. 16 2009 11:51 AM
Jake from

Dude, don't feel bad, they're just measuring you against the lugs they have (or had) at home. Remind yourself that if you need to.

Dec. 16 2009 11:50 AM
adsf from

I would love to hear some primary and secondary school volunteer program and/or community participation best practices, "introduced by dads!"

Dec. 16 2009 11:48 AM
Matt P from UWS

I'm a stay at home father and currently the co-president of the parents association at my daughters' school. I took a little ribbing at first from other fathers, but everyone realizes what a difficult and important job it really is. We don't have any other fathers on the PA right now, but there are many who are regular volunteers at events and we can generally count on dads to lend a hand.

Dec. 16 2009 11:40 AM
Beth from UWS Manhattan

Our school, PS87, has quite a large Parent Association Board and many of those members are dads, including my Co-President. They put in countless hours helping to: map out our technology, improve the healthiness & quality of our cafeteria food, coordinate our Dual Language program, oversee our school website and fundraise. Other programs outside the PA attract a lot of dads, including Parents as Reading Partners, in which parents read to the same child one-on-one each week, to help build the child's skills and enjoyment of books; and also playground monitoring and garden maintenance & planning. Many dads chaperone field trips each week. GO DADS!

Dec. 16 2009 11:12 AM
adfs from

is this about parenting in general? the CONTRAST in roles between dads and moms? the changing role of dads?

Dec. 16 2009 10:07 AM

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