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May 2015 • Online Edition

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Rebel DADS Investing In Their Kids, Their School And Their Community | Print |  E-mail

by Paul Kashmann

Michael Faughnan is excited about South High. His enthusiasm for the school is real, and it’s contagious.

“From what I hear, there have been difficult times at South on and off over the years, but things have changed. There’s a culture of success growing there, you can see it and you feel it just walking around the school. I want to help that continue.”

Along with a group of other fathers equally committed to making South the best high school Denver has to offer, Faughnan has formed Rebel DADS – Dads Advocating for Denver South.

In case you think this is just another group of PTA “homers” blowing the horn for their kids’ school, you should know that Faughnans’ children, Ava, Will and Sean are 6, 4 and 3 years of age respectively.

“We’ve got five families on our block with school-age kids, and they’re all going in different directions right now,” said Faughnan. “They play together all the time, and a few of us fathers were talking, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if our kids could all go to school together some day?’ And everybody agreed that not only do we want our kids to go to the same school, but we want it to be the best option out there. If we want our kids to go there in 10 years, we can’t just show up. We need to get involved and offer our support.”

Faughan floated the idea of forming a school advocacy group to some friends about a year ago. “Four of us were going to meet for drinks at The Tavern over on S. Gaylord St., and by the time we got together, a dozen guys showed up.” These few months later, there are 110 dads on the Rebel DADS email list. “We’d like to double that,” he said.

While many in the DADS group are professionals with resources to send their children to private school – Faughnan’s daughter has started her education at St. Vincent de Paul – “We believe in the importance of public schools, and what they have to offer.” The International Magnet Program at South High is particularly appealing to Faughnan. South is home to students from nearly 60 countries – the school’s website is translated into 58 languages.

“Some people who walk into the school are set back a bit because some of the students look different than they’re used to,” he stated. “But the diversity at South is a huge part of what’s so appealing. Kids get a head start at learning to live in a world of many cultures. It’s a school inside a school. There are many families choosing South because of that program. It really is the gem.”

Still in its formative stages, the DADS group hopes to be involved wherever a need exists. “We want to participate in career panels at the school, host fund-raisers and even establish a scholarship fund in the not-distant future,” said Keith Love, another of the group’s founding fathers. “South High School is in the center of the community, but it kind of exists in a bubble. We want to help bring the community inside that bubble. Whether that’s providing help to mentor students, or putting bodies in the stands for athletic events.”

“We’ve got a core group of six guys right now,” said Faughnan, including a web designer, software salesman, lawyer, business consultant, and entrepreneur. Faughnan works in insurance and employee benefits. “I’d love to see that core grow to 20 dads,” he said, “with each working on  his own area of interest. Maybe one could work on helping to understand test scores, another could work on how South might connect more closely with DU (University of Denver) across the highway.” Playing off the name of a popular TV show, Faughnan says, “You can think of our goal as South CSI – Connect the school to the community; Support successes; and Influence outcomes.

“I think there’s still a nagging perception in some circles that South doesn’t have its share of resources or successes. That’s just not true any more. (Principal) Kristin Waters came into a good situation, and is really moving it further along. We’re in this for the long haul. As good as the school is doing now, there is immense potential to be even better. We’re interested in helping the school fulfill that potential.”

For information about Rebel DADS, email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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