Each Wednesday, around 60 students at Memminger Elementary School in South Carolina dress for success and meet for their “Gentleman’s Club” where they learn how to be true gentlemen.
Raymond Nelson is the support specialist who works with at-risk children at Memminger Elementary, and he had a wonderful idea of how he could help his students.
“I was thinking maybe if I have the boys dress for success…” Raymond said, “When was the last time you saw someone fighting in a tuxedo?”
On Wednesdays the fifth graders wear tuxedos and their best suits to school and meet to discuss life topics such as how to shake hands, how to make eye contact, how to open doors for others and how to address their elders. The majority of the children in his club do not have fathers at home, so he is able to provide them with the love and guidance they so dearly crave and need.
“I know a lot of them struggle because a lot of them don’t have men at home, so I just want them to grow up and think of the things that I teach them,” Raymond said. “They like the reaction of walking up to classrooms and say, ‘Oh, you look so nice and handsome,’ they just love it.”
Raymond keeps extra donated suit jackets, vests and ties at school for any student who doesn’t have one at home. He has found that when the at-risk children know that someone loves and cares about them, that they perform better in school.
“A lot of my students perform well when they know someone cares about them,” he said.
They also teach these young aspiring men how to treat sisters, mothers and their teachers with compassion.
Raymond himself was a member of such a club when he was younger, and he said it was deeply beneficial for him.
“It helped me to be a better man, and I could spread [this] knowledge to the young boys,” he said.
The Gentleman’s Club has been so successful that numerous schools have been creating their own.
Thomas E. Kerns Elementary in South Carolina also has a Gentleman’s Club; a sought-after group of 48 fourth and fifth graders.
“The Gentlemen’s Club is not just teaching you how to be a gentleman,” Elijah Shanks, a fifth grade student said. “Love who you are. Accept yourself for who you are and don’t let anybody get in the way of that.”
“It teaches you to respect others and treat them how you would want to be treated,” Gavin Curtis, a 10-year-old fourth grader added.
“I think the Gentlemen’s Club impacts these young boys with a sense of belonging,” said Principal Mark Adams. “We look at it as preparation for academics. Preparation for behavior, preparation for citizenship, because it’s our responsibility to prepare them for the next level.”
The students at Thomas E. Kerns have gourmet meals together and dine with proper etiquette.
“The food is super good,” one student mentioned.
“I think I’ve started to get in love with it,” one student said of the meal.
“This is so good. I think I’ve seen Jesus,” another student said.
One student, Curtis, wants to be a lawyer when he grows up. Elijah wants to write songs, and he feels that the Gentleman’s Club has given him the confidence to start.
“It gets me the confidence to actually do it because if i didn’t have the confidence, I would not be holding the pencil, and the pencil would not go on the paper,” Elijah said.
“I used to get in a lot of trouble,” Jose said. “But, when I heard of Gentleman’s Club, I joined. After the first meeting we had, I felt better… I started getting better grades.”
These wonderful teachers are truly making a difference for their at-risk children and are guiding them in ways which will help them for the rest of their lives.
You are Loved.
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