Be A Man aims to help local boys become better men

Published 2:45 pm Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Recently, Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham spoke to a group of young men at Robert D. Campbell Junior High School.

The subject? How to be a man.

Branham was the latest in a series of speakers for Partners in Education’s Be A Man (BAM) program.

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“We try to put local men in front of students,” said the organization’s executive director, Greg Yates.

Twice a month, a group of 50 young men are visited and spoken to by a man from the local community about how they became successful.

Branham was an excellent example of what the program tries to instill in young men.

“It is putting examples in front of these young boys. That is what I loved about Judge Branham when he talked to them…His dad died when he was really young, and he was raised by a single mom. He never went to college. Here is someone who is the county judge-executive, and he never went to college. It was perfect for those boys to hear that because not everyone is going to go to college.”

The BAM program has been going strong for over half a decade, and the inspiration came from a statistic Yates heard at a meeting.

“Back in 2016 or 2017, Brenda Considine – who at that time was the chief academic officer – threw at a statistic at a meeting that in Clark County that for grades K-8 that 65 percent of students live with someone other than a parent,” Yates said.

Upon further reflection and research, a thought hit Yates like a thunderbolt.

“We’ve got a generation of young boys that aren’t being raised by men,” he said. “So that is where the whole idea or concept of us starting Be A Man came from.”

The pilot run for the program was at Baker Intermediate School.

“We had 25 men from the county judge to Brian Thomas, who was the county attorney at the time, to Mayor [Ed] Burtner, just different community leaders,” Yates said. “We split them up into a group of five different men every week, and they would come and meet with a group of 20-25 boys.”

The wisdom each man imparted to the boys was left up to them. One man taught the young gentlemen how to make a movie using only a digital camera. Another used an old map to discuss local history, while another brought a farm tractor for the boys to see and explore.

The guest speakers also dedicated a portion of their visit to reading part of a book to the young men.

The program has evolved to where five men go into the school once a month and meet with a smaller group of four to five boys.

Two years later, BAM expanded to the Clark County Preschool, and in 2021 it came to RDC.

Recently, the program had its first-ever female speaker.

“We had Ms. [Kelly] Fithen, the school district’s chief academic officer, come talk to the boys because has been a successful person,” Yates said.

Regardless of who speaks to the boys, it is a plus for Clark County’s present to impart wisdom on its future.

Partners in Education was established in 2003 to address the high dropout rate in Clark County. The organization partners with local businesses to local mentor schoolchildren for one hour per week. For more informatin visit its website at www.sites.google.com/clark.kyschools.us/pie/home.