By Tara Cavanaugh
Joe Dulin thinks that parents are among a school’s most important assets, and he’s put that idea into action.
The retired Ann Arbor educator, who was the principal of Roberto Clemente for 36 years, created National African American Parent Involvement Day in 1995. Now in its 18th year, NAAPID is celebrated in 49 states and even in some other countries around the world.
And NAAPID is still going strong.
Every building in the Ann Arbor Public Schools celebrates NAAPID in some way, whether by talent shows or poster contests, assemblies or with guest speakers.
All schools open their doors to parents, welcoming them to sit in on their child’s classes too.
“NAAPID is not just for black people –– it’s for all people,” Dulin says. “It comes during Black History Month, and I thought it was a tremendous time to introduce it as a project for parents to get into our schools to exchange notes, phone numbers, emails, have conversations and get in touch with the teachers.”
Dulin was inspired to create a parent involvement day after going to the Million Man March in 1995. “A young man named Ayinde Jean-Baptiste, then 12 years old, was one of the speakers, and he challenged us to go back to our communities and do something,” Dulin says. “I got the feeling that, out of a million men, he was looking at me.” When he returned home, he gathered up some friends and family and NAAPID was born.
Founding NAAPID is just one of Dulin’s many accomplishments. He was the president of the National Black Catholic movement and has spoken out about racism in churches. He has been a part of the Ann Arbor Community Foundation, and gives a scholarship each year in his and his wife’s names. The Joe Dulin Community Day will be celebrated in Washtenaw County for its seventh year in August.
Now 74, Dulin retired from AAPS just three years ago and shows no signs of slowing down. He still volunteers at a preschool and is the board secretary and treasurer of Huron Valley Ambulance. He’s involved in the consolidation of the Ypsilanti and Willow Run school districts. Last month, he won Eastern Michigan University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award.
Dulin has had three heart attacks and wears a pacemaker and defibrillator. “But I get around,” he says. He most recently spoke at Carpenter Elementary on Friday, Feb. 15 for the school’s rescheduled NAAPID celebration. (NAAPID is usually celebrated the second Monday in February).
Dulin applauded the parents, some whom came from as far as Grand Blanc, for wanting to be more involved in their children’s education. “This is good,” he said to the group sitting in the cafeteria. “It starts with you.”
Powerful words from a man who has worked hard to prove them true.
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