A dad who walks the walkPublished 6:44pm Saturday, June 8, 2013
Lemuel Jones doesn’t just speak the truth. He leads by example.
The Suffolk father of three shares the belief of many, including this newspaper, that dads today are insufficiently involved in the lives of their young children, specifically in their educations, and that society is worse for it.
When Jones attended his first PTA meeting at Oakland Elementary School seven years ago, he was struck by the lack of men in the room. He could have succumbed to the stereotype of PTA as a “mom thing,” left after that first meeting and not come back.
Jones did the opposite. He plunged head-first into the organization and began taking on leadership roles, first as president at Oakland, then at King’s Fork Middle School on the citywide Suffolk PTA Council. Today he is the southeastern director for the Virginia PTA, working for the volunteer advocacy association throughout Hampton Roads.
Along the way, Jones saw other dads begin to follow his lead.
A little peer pressure never hurts.
“If one student’s father comes to school,” Jones says, “another student might go home and say, ‘Dad, my friend’s father came to school. Dad, when are you going to come to school?’”
Jones, 49, an employee of Western Tidewater Regional Jail and a substitute teacher, was a deserving recipient of the Suffolk PTA Council’s Volunteer of the Year Award.
He counts it as his highest honor, exceeding even recognition received during an eight-year stint as a Navy reservist.
As Father’s Day approaches, Jones’ service reminds us of the important role dads can play in the education of their children — a small investment of time that can reap a lifetime of rewards for father and child.
“I hear, ‘I don’t have time to come to PTA meetings,’” Jones said. “But it’s only an hour a month. You don’t have to stay for the whole time — just show up and support your child.”