ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Fathers in the Rochester City School District are stepping up in a new partnership with the board of education to stop violent outbreaks from continuing at RCSD campuses. It’s called the Fathers Initiating Restorative Engagement Project(F.I.R.E).
F.I.R.E launched at Franklin High School in November. It’s goal is to not add another authority-type figure to patrol the hallways, but give students a new resource of support for help to stay focused on education.
It all begins when students arrive at school. Up to six members of F.I.R.E will greet them and see how their day started. Then ask how life is going home and what classes they have today?
“We know that life is hard, and kids come in with a lot of things from the outside and unfortunately, they bring it inside our schools,” Ricky Frazier, a volunteer, told us. “Again, having that positive presence we hope that it will deter the violence that it will make kids feel comfortable when they do come in.”
We followed these dads to the cafeteria where many students hang out and eat breakfast before the start of first period. A time they used to chat with as many students as they could about upcoming school games, counsel them one on one with any problems they’re going through, and above all knowing they can be safe at school.
“That breaks down barriers and maybe that softens the moment that will occur when the student is dealing with a very difficult academic subject,” F.I.R.E volunteer Van White said. “Or the frustration a student might feel in a particular situation that they may feel vulnerable.”
This project was adopted following five Franklin High teachers assaulted by students while at school, another was allegedly sexually assaulted in October. Since these parents came in, the district has seen fewer cases of violence. They believe it is in part because students have more resources to turn to for support.
“We’re not here to enforce rules, we’re not here to break up fights,” White continued. “We’re here to do what most decent caring, committed community members and fathers do day in and day out.”
“Learning takes place in the classroom but learning also takes place in relationships,” Frazier added. “That you have with students, relationships they have with their peers, relationships with their staff, and again we just as people in the community have a role to influence in a positive way.”
This project is also being done at Edison Tech. Rochester City School District would like to expand it to more campuses as the year goes on. If you are a father to RCSD students and would like to volunteer, you can do so by calling 585-262-8362 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.