Dads cheer for Rawlings’ students before testing

Fathers delivered words of encouragement to students as they walked through the doors of Rawlings Elementary School before taking the math section of the Florida Student Assessment end-of-the-year test.

Sponsored by Gainesville For All (GNV4ALL), Develop A Dream and Rawlings’ officials, .about a dozen men gathered at the school at 3500 NE 15th St. Thursday morning for a meet-and-greet to support the students before they took the test .

“We want the students to know that we are here for them,” said James F. Lawrence, executive director of GNV4ALL. “This is a symbolic gesture to show up and cheer them on. There’s something about positive reinforcement — it does have an impact. This will be a starting point to get dads more involved.”

Chauncey Walker, founder of Develop A Dream and a Physical Education teacher at Marjorie Rawlings Elementary, shakes the hand of a student at the school during the father cheering event organized by the Fatherhood Initiative of Gainesville For All in Gainesville on May 5, 2022. Walker worked with GNV4all with Jacob Lawrence to help coordinate the event to help encourage students and bring positive role models to support them.  (Lawren Simmons/Special to the Sun)
Claude Bonds, right, an assistant pastor at Mount Carmel Baptist Church, high fives a student Thursday at Rawlings Elementary School during the father cheering event organized by the Fatherhood Initiative of Gainesville For All held to encourage students before they took the math part of the Florida Student Assessment end of year test.

GNV4ALL was created in 2016 to address racial inequities within Alachua County.

The organization has plans to open the Gainesville Empowerment Zone Family Learning Center later this year to provide educational, social and medical services to low-income children and families in the 32609 zip code, and Alachua County in general, Lawrence said.

The Alachua County School Board approved in February that a facility on the Metcalf Elementary School campus could be used for three years to house the center.

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