Every Tuesday this fall, a group of 22 fourth- and fifth-grade boys at Spring Branch Elementary (SBE) came to school early, wearing suits, eager to learn about and then embody the characteristics of being a gentleman.
Under the leadership of Juan Suarez, a Master Classroom Leader (MCL) and science instructional coach at SBE in Spring Branch ISD, the goals of the program are to teach boys how to be gentlemen in today’s world, how to respect each other and to understand their roles as leaders in their homes, schools and community. This was his third cohort of students to participate in the school’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen program.
“When I was in elementary school, there was a gentleman who made a big impression on my success,” said Suarez. “I always told myself that someday I would return the favor by being a role model to other young men.”
Each Tuesday, a component of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’s Pledge was the focus of the weekly meeting. Traits such as honesty, integrity, academic excellence, respect, helpfulness, and more, were presented, discussed and put into practice.
“I am now doing better in school,” said Manny, a fifth-grade student in the program. “I pay more attention to my teachers.”
At every meeting, a male role model from the community was invited to speak about how gentlemanly traits helped them succeed and grow in their careers. Each told the young men about obstacles they had faced, and how to learn from these struggles.
One of the students was especially impressed with a veteran who spoke to the group. “He fought for us, for our liberty,” said Rafael. "So other people don't treat us bad and we get respect."
The character trait of community service was also instilled in the budding gentlemen at SBE. They helped their teachers with extra projects and carrying heavy bundles in from the parking lot. The group also sold Veteran’s Day poppies as a fundraiser to support the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) chapter.
On Friday, Dec. 6, a dinner for the fall cohort and their families was held at the school to celebrate the group’s achievements.
“My son was very shy,” said a parent of a fifth-grade student in the program. “He now has more confidence and is doing better in school.
“He also reminded me each week, ‘We have to get to school early tomorrow, and I have to wear my suit!’”
Proudly wearing their suits on the night of the awards dinner, the young men each received a certificate from Mr. Suarez recognizing them officially as Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Their suits were purchased with donations from a VFW veteran and other community supporters.
One of the speakers who had spoken to the young men on two occasions this fall, John Paul Guerrero from Cumulus Digital Services, attended the awards dinner and was brimming with pride for what the boys, now gentlemen, had achieved. Other invited guests included the SBE fourth- and fifth-grade teachers, and Lynn Austin, SBE principal.
“You look so good,” said one of the teachers to her gentleman student. “I am so proud of you.”
As role models in their school, the new cadre of SBE Extraordinary Gentlemen will continue to help their teachers, respect themselves and others, and serve as official greeters and ambassadors for school functions.
Submitted by Becky Wuerth, SBISD Communications