A South Carolina teacher is going above and beyond with the aim of helping young boys in his community who don’t have a father figure at home, and has introduced The Gentlemen’s Club, to help mould and groom them to be respectful and considerate young men.
“When was the last time you saw someone fighting in a tuxedo?” That’s what student support specialist Raymond Nelson told CBS affiliate WCSC. Nelson, who works at Memminger Elementary School in Downtown Charleston, South Carolina, is helping at-risk children to overcome the odds by dressing up.
That’s right – dressing up.
Nelson (along with 4th grade teacher Kenneth Joyner) started the Gentleman’s Club “Boys with a Purpose” as a way to teach students life lessons, such as how to address elders, opening doors for others, shaking hands and making eye contact.
“The purpose of the club is to teach young men how to dress and conduct themselves like gentlemen.”
The once a week club requires the 60 participating boys to ‘dress for success’. The children come to school wearing their Sunday best – including dress pants, dress shirts, blazers and ties. If a child doesn’t have his own dress clothes to wear, Nelson has donated jackets and ties on hand to give out.
Why dress up?
The club’s motto says it all, “Look good, feel good, do good.”
According to the club’s Facebook page, “The purpose of the club is to teach young men how to dress and conduct themselves like gentlemen.” Nelson told WCSC that his mother nudged him into joining a similar type of club when he was a child, “It helped me to be a better man and I could spread the knowledge to the young boys.”
The boys aren’t just dressing up, they’re learning how to act appropriately in social situations, be polite and show courtesy to others.
The program has been such a success that the Charleston County School District is considering adding the club to other schools in the area. Garnering support and notoriety in the U.S., Nelson, Joyner and some of the students were invited to be guests on Steve Harvey TV. A fan, and friend, of the program (known as Nick) started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for the club. Contributions will help to fund the purchase of extra clothes for the boys. The page also notes that anyone who lives in the nearby area may also donate gently worn dress pants, shirts, ties, jackets and shoes for boys ages 5 through 12 directly to the school.
So what’s this all mean? Dressing for success may in fact have positive results when it comes to the young students’ self-perception. Not only are they learning about social ‘niceties’, but they’re building confidence. Nelson told WCSC, “I know a lot of them struggle because a lot of them don’t have men at home, so I just want them to grow up and think of the things that I teach them.” He also noted, “They like the reaction of walking up to classrooms and say, ‘Oh, you look so nice and handsome,’ they just love it.”