Healthy Halloween
Dads Club holds 'Great Race' at Shiloh Elementary

SNELLVILLE - Rodney Bradley knows it's important for fathers to act as role models.

Spending quality time with his children is so important to him that Bradley serves as Shiloh Elementary School's only "room dad."

But a new PTA initiative this year has increased the number of fathers involved with the school. More than 60 fathers have signed up for the school PTA's Dads Club, said Joe Sylve, the club chairman.

About a dozen dads came to the school Wednesday to help with the club's first activity, "The Great Race." Students came out to the field by grade level to participate in a race as fathers cheered them on. Some ran with the students.

"It's really all about encouraging kids to have an active, healthy lifestyle," Sylve said. "Exercise is a big part of that.

"This is the first of many more events," he added. "We're really planning on having a much greater presence in the school."

Shiloh Elementary Principal Betty Ann Schoeneck said the physical activity was a great match for the Dads Club.

"It's so exciting to see dads out here as wonderful role models for the kids and being a part of our daily education," she said. "The dads have been so enthusiastic. I wish we always had the opportunity to have fun things like this."

Schoeneck, who became the school's principal in July, said she suggested the PTA start the club as a way to increase parental involvement, which had been falling.

The PTA's former treasurer was arrested in September on theft charges after an audit uncovered money missing from the PTA's account. During the investigation, school PTA officials said in a statement they planned "to uphold the traditional values and goals that benefit our children, parents and community."

Shiloh Elementary's PTA once earned the distinction of National PTA Parent Involvement School of Excellence, according to the school's Web site.

PTA co-presidents Charlene Jefferson and Veronica Leftridge said Wednesday they felt it was imperative to start the initiative, which Sylve later named.

"You always see the moms (at PTA events)," Leftridge said. "We want our dads to be seen more and show they do care about the children, too."

Jefferson added, "They're going to support us a lot through the year."

Eric Swain, a father of three, said he joined the club "just to spend more quality and more quantity time with the kids.

"We're in their world of influence," Swain said. "When you spend time with them, you reinforce that you care about them."