With no mirror in sight, volunteer Joel Frees improvised and pulled out his smartphone, setting it on the camera feature.
Fifth-grader Wayland Lamson looked at the phone and watched himself as he guided his fingers to his neck and made a tiny adjustment to the tie knot. He made it look easy and quickly pulled out the knot to practice once more.
It was the first time the youngster had worn a tie, but it wouldn’t be the last. After a high-five from Frees, Lamson said he liked the way he looked.
Lamson was one of about 30 male students to participate in a Jan. 14 Tie Day event at Edgemere Elementary School. Male community leaders were invited into Oklahoma City Public Schools’ Edgemere and F.D. Moon elementaries, and each was partnered with male students for half-hour tie lessons.
Tie Day co-founders Warren Pete and Taylor Doe believe the lesson goes far beyond mastering the Windsor knot.
“When they put the tie on, they feel different: ‘Wow, I am somebody,’” said Pete, F.D. Moon Elementary School principal. “We already know they are somebody, but this helps them realize and remember that.”
Tie Day creation
Last year, F.D. Moon students talked about dressing up for school and wearing ties. Pete, who wears a necktie, approached Doe, a fellow fan of the masculine accessory. The two desired an opportunity to bring male volunteers onto the campus. Neckties, which a majority of adult males own, offered a unique way to foster mentorship.
Doe teaches the school’s character education class through his role as community relations representative at SandRidge Energy, an oil and natural gas company based in Oklahoma City.
“This was a low-barrier entry,” Doe said. “These guys have ties for days in their closets that they don’t wear. It is an easy, not expensive and low time commitment opportunity, but the impact is great.”
In 2015, SandRidge provided neckwear for male F.D. Moon students, and dozens of employees traveled to the northeast Oklahoma City school for the event. Other men heard of the event and were matched with students. Last spring, the school hosted Tie Day Fridays, during which students typically sported donated SandRidge ties.
This year, Tie Day expanded to Edgemere, the district’s first community school.
With local partnerships already in place, school leaders emailed about 250 people, seeking volunteers and spare ties. The response was overwhelming, said Colin Strickland, school coordinator. Several dozen neckties and a few bow ties were donated. Community leaders volunteered to visit.
“Something like Tie Day is a great first-time interaction with an urban school,” Strickland said. “You come into the school and instantly get to interact with students. … We hope to see these volunteers again through different initiatives and opportunities at our schools.”
Neckwear is an uncommon sight at Edgemere, except on a few male staff members, which includes teacher Nathaniel Sutton. Students often compliment Sutton’s ties, said Strickland, who also often wears a tie.
Tie Day volunteer Joel Tudman first learned about the opportunity through The Net Church. At first, he showed his new buddy the double Windsor knot, but the two switched to an easier style.
“We talked about school and what he likes,” said Tudman, who mentioned he would again volunteer at Tie Day. “He talked about recess and mathematics.”
Like Tudman, Frees connected to Tie Day through the pastor at Midtown Church OKC. He can’t remember how he learned the skill but remembers tying ties as a member of the basketball team at his high school. He likely won’t forget teaching Lamson.
As Tie Day ended at Edgemere, some volunteers asked about future Tie Days and other opportunities at the school.
Doe said a sixth-grade class at Southern Hills Elementary School will conduct its own Tie Day and he hopes the event expands into more schools in Oklahoma City and throughout the state.
Additionally, he expects volunteers to look for other opportunities to get involved.
“That’s the hope,” Doe said, “that we give the men another opportunity to come back, meet and hang out with the kids who they originally helped tie a tie.”
Learn more about Tie Day at tiedayschool.com.
Print Headline: Community ties, OKCPS and SandRidge Energy’s Tie Day events bring new role models into classrooms.