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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools sounding alarm for men to volunteer in the classroom

CMS launched an effort last year to develop the CMS Men's Empowerment Network to attract more positive male influences onto its campuses.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools community engagement leaders are sounding the alarm by putting out a plea to men in the community: Come join us to help students who need it the most.

"Superman ain't coming, but the men are!" CMS Community Engagement Specialist Harold Dixon said on behalf of the CMS Men's Empowerment Network.

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Dixon's call to action comes after high attendance at last month's district town hall meetings on participating pilot Title I campuses only yielded about a dozen men signing up to become mentors. 

The schools: 

Dixon said ideally each of the schools would have 50 men signed up to volunteer.

"I gave my passionate speech... and what happened is I think they're hearing the word mentor, and they're saying, 'Okay, I don't have that kind of time,'" Dixon said.

CMS launched an effort last year to develop the CMS Men's Empowerment Network to attract more positive male influences onto its campuses because Dixon said research shows students behave and perform better academically when men are present. 

The network has four mentoring pillars:  

  1. Attendance / Academics (CMS Check and Connect program
  2. Social and Emotional and Behavior (CMS Restorative Practice)
  3. The Power of Presence (Be There Dad)
  4. Life After High School (College and Career Readiness with the UNCC META program)

"We will talk about the power of presence, making sure that the men are present, making a difference, volunteering, and the building, maybe coupled with the PTA," Dixon explained.

Each mentor will undergo a background check and outlined training developed exclusively for CMS by Harvard's School of Education. Mentors will serve in carpool lines, as hall monitors and as reading buddies during tutoring sessions among other responsibilities -- with a volunteer's schedule based upon their availability. 

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Next school year the district plans to roll out CMS Men's Empowerment Network on 94 Title I campuses, using federal funding allocated to hire two employees to manage the program. Anyone interested in mentoring can find more information here.  

"We really, really, really are making an all call to the community to houses of worship, demand screws to nonprofits to fraternities. We need everybody to join forces with us and help make a difference," Dixon told WCNC Charlotte.

Contact Fred Shropshire at fred@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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