Learning to be a gentleman

Published 10:07 am Tuesday, January 31, 2017

IES boys learn rules, power tools

Ironton Elementary School is offering some of their young boys a chance to learn how to act like a proper man with its Gentleman’s Academy.

IES Assistant Principal David Ashworth came up with the idea. He thought is was something that was needed and brainstormed with a couple teachers who were willing to help out.

He said that many of these skills of being a gentleman and being presentable in public have been become underused because of the weakening role of men in society and many households have absent fathers or father figures.

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“Historically, what young men learned from adult male figures is going to the wayside,” Ashworth said. “At least that’s my opinion. They aren’t getting the traditional old school manners, the way to present yourself, the way to communicate; there aren’t as many men around to teach that anymore.”

The first of four sessions was conducted last week with 11 fourth and fifth graders attending.

The boys learned how to iron clothes, how to properly shake hands, how to hold a conversation and how to use basic tools.

“It’s been really good,” Ashworth said. “The kids and the staff really enjoy it.”

The goal is to not only have the boys learn to be gentlemen, but learn self-efficiency and to learn to aim higher when it comes to getting a job.

“It opens doors for them as far as who they are and who they can become,” Ashworth said. “I want my kids, whenever they walk in the room, no matter how many people are in that room, to walk in and take command of that room because they can carry a conversation and they carry themselves with confidence.”

Three members of the Gentleman’s Academy are Phoenix Payne, Sasha Posch and Peyton McKnight, all 10 years old, said they are happy to learn about being a gentleman and all the skills it entails.

“It’s fun,” Posch said. “At the end of the last class, we shook hands and looked each other in the eyes and had to give a compliment.”

Payne said the best thing he’s learned so far is “either how to handle tools, how to iron or using proper etiquette”

He added they are being taught so much good stuff, it’s hard to single out just one thing.

“It’s all things that will make our lives easier as we mature and become men,” Payne said.

McKnight said he is trying to use the skills he’s learned on a daily basis.

“I think it’s unique because it is something we can use in the future to make our lives easier,” he said.

Future sessions will cover perfecting the handshake, learning to tie a tie, how to read a paper map, negotiating a deal, how to tip at a restaurant, how to handle money and investments. In a third session, they will go to the high school and learn how to cook a meal, sew a button and how to do basic car like tire pressure and oil changes.

The fourth session will be about style, hygiene and getting a haircut. That session will end with a “date night” with a foster grandparent where the students will have to use their newly learned skills in a social setting.

“A big thing we are stressing that these are all things you practice day in and day out until it becomes a routine for you,” Ashworth said. “The whole program is to instill a belief to put others first and to serve. Basic Jesus teachings.”