Photos, story and video by Jo Mathis/AAPS District News
Thanks to a group of fathers at the Ann Arbor Preschool & Family Center, about 200 preschoolers got the chance Tuesday to learn more about the professionals who help keep them safe.
On “Safety Day,” these Male Ambassadors invited representatives of the Ann Arbor police and fire departments, as well as Huron Valley Ambulance, to the school to meet the children and let them see a close up view of the vehicles they sometimes see on the streets with lights and sirens blaring.
“We want them to know that the police are friendly, and the ambulances are here to help, as well as the Fire Department,” said parent T. C. Collins. “All three work hand-in-hand.”
Last year, Collins decided that more fathers should be involved in their children’s education. So he and another dad started the Male Ambassadors Program at the preschool, with a goal of sponsoring one educational program each month.
Teaching kids how to garden is Collins’s main focus, and that resulted in an Earth Day celebration last year at the school. This year, the program has expanded from two to eight fathers. Future events are expected to include clay and finger-painting, more gardening, cooking, and a fathers’ field trips to local free events with their children.
Fellow Male Ambassador Jaber Khirallah has three children—two of whom are enrolled at the preschool.
“We want to help all the kids,” said Khirallah, pausing for a moment from his duties helping the preschoolers examine a fire truck. “Some don’t have males in the house and we want to show them a lot of things like the Fire Department, ambulance, Police Department. We want to help all the kids.”
“A lot of fathers don’t participate,” said Collins, the father of four. “Some kids think that Mom does everything, but Dad doesn’t. So we want to get the dads in here to volunteer at the school for any event, to teach the kids that Dad is a helper also.”
Principal Michelle Pogliano says the growth of the program has been an “absolute joy” to watch.
“These dads truly own the program and have become such strong advocates for their child’s education,” she said. “They have exceptional leadership skills, creativity, and drive and they have a strong belief in male involvement in education and speak out about that any chance they get.”