The club was started by this school principal to guide kids and is headed by a student support specialist.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on June 10, 2021. It has since been updated.
A teacher in South Carolina is helping instill confidence in at-risk children and working to mold them into young gentlemen during the winter break. Raymond Nelson, who is the student support specialist at a school in South Carolina, has formed a "Gentlemen's Club" for fifth graders. Every Wednesday. Nelson teaches them basic life lessons and helps them dress for success, reported CBS News. Nelson is keen to be a father figure to the at-risk kids in the community.
Nelson, who's a teacher at Memminger Elementary in Downtown Charleston, says the club's motto is: "Look good, feel good, do good." Nelson believes a good part of your confidence comes from wearing good clothes and knowing how to present yourself and act around other people. Close to 60 students turn up at Memminger Elementary School every Wednesday. He is keen to teach kids similar invaluable life skills that will stand them in good stead in the future. "I was thinking maybe if I have the boys dress for success," Nelson told WCSC-TV. "When was the last time you saw someone fighting in a tuxedo?" They also get life lessons like cleaning their neighborhood and watering plants.
He is aware that many of them don't have the support they need, at home. Nelson said that he wants to guide them. "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," said Nelson. "They like the reaction of walking up to classrooms and say, 'Oh, you look so nice and handsome,' they just love it." Nelson himself benefitted from one such group, where he had joined at the request of his mother. "It helped me to be a better man and I could spread the knowledge to the young boys," he said.
"Gentleman's club is not just teaching you how to be a gentleman. Love who you are and accept yourself for who you are and not let anybody get in the way of that," says one student. Another said, "It teaches you to respect others and treat them how you want to be treated." The club was first started by school principal Mark Adams. It's our responsibility to prepare them for the next level," said Adams.
Nelson also collects donated jackets, vests, and ties at school for the kids who don't have their own. He adds that half the journey is just someone showing belief in them. "A lot of my students perform well when they know someone cares about them," said Nelson. The student support specialist believes showing respect to others and knowing how to conduct yourself is what drives home your personality and paves way for your success. Some of the topics Nelson teaches them include showing them how to shake hands, make eye contact, open doors, and address their elders. Pictures from one session show them suited up and dining inside what looks like a classroom. They are served a gourmet three-course meal twice a year.
At the core of his lessons are their responses to women, including their sisters, mothers, and their teachers. He said many of the boys are at that young age where they believe rumors that girls have 'cooties.' He wants to help them to understand and be more respectful towards women. The Gentleman's Club has become a success in the local community and now Charleston County School District officials are trying to replicate the success at other local schools and planning to introduce Gentleman's programs in their schools.