But it didn't take a study to convince Terry Waldron
.Waldron, an art teacher at Sparta High School in Randolph County, Ill., has headed the Sparta School District's Fatherhood Program for the more than two years of its existence.
"It's the most rewarding thing I've ever been involved with, and I've been teaching for 27 years," Waldron
said in an interview Friday.He
said the program began after he
attended a workshop for area teachers on the importance of parental involvement in schools.Speakers at the workshop suggested that fathers as well as mothers should become active in children's studies and after-school activities.Waldron
later attended a training session in Texas, where fatherhood programs have been held in schools for several years.
After returning to Sparta
, about 45 miles southeast of St. Louis, Waldron
and other organizers of Sparta's
program decided to sponsor activities for fathers and their children on Saturday mornings at least twice each semester.
The first such event was called "Doughnuts with Dad" - a breakfast and recreational program that attracted 86 fathers, father figures and children, in 2000, Waldron
The group's most recent event, last month, brought 373 participants to Sparta's
regional airport to fly for free in some vintage airplanes.Pilots donated their services, Waldron
has heard from scores of people telling him that fathers and father figures have become more actively involved in Sparta's schools since the Fatherhood Program started.
"I even get people on the street stopping me to say, 'Aren't you that 'dads guy'?"he