LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Dozens of fathers and other community members shared their time -- and knack for knowing how to tie neckties -- with nearly 150 male students at Mill Creek Elementary School on Wednesday.

"Take that small part here and wrap it around there," local businessman Melvyn Little said as five boys stood beside him, listening and watching his every move. "It's just like everything else, you have to practice...but then it becomes easier to do."

The event, called ‘Help Tie a Boy to Leadership,' was part of the school's Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) program. It's goal was to show third, fourth and fifth grade students how to dress in a professional manner and build self-esteem while also developing a positive relationship with male role models.

"We are so excited to see so many of these men come into our school today," said La'Quesha Bonds, the assistant principal at Mill Creek. "It teaches them how to do something that many of them didn't know how to do before and it also gives them some hope about what our community can be and maybe even some future jobs."

Before community member Ty Anderson event got started, he talked to his group of boys about the importance of a firm handshake. 

"How you dress and how you shake someone's hand -- it says a lot about you," Anderson said. "You want to make a good first impression."

For many of the boys, it took some practice, but once they figured it out, their faces instantly lit up.

"I got it!" a third-grader yelled out.

"I did it!" said another student, who before Wednesday didn't know how to tie a tie.

Little, who spent 25 years with the Louisville Fire Department and still serves as a chaplain, called helping the kids a "no brainer."

“Anytime you have an opportunity to give back to the community and also pour into the lives of young men, I think it's a great (way) to assist," he said. "The reactions of the students...they saw something that they could part of and they were very receptive and eager to learn."

Fifth graders Gabriel Rollins said he and his classmates appreciate what the men did for them.

"I just want to give them a big thank you," said Gabriel, 10. "They spent their whole morning with us, that's something they didn't have to do."

D'von Titus, 11, said a lot of boys his age don't have positive male role models in their lives.

"Some people don't have men at home to teach them how to be a better man or how to tie a tie," D'Von said, adding that he also enjoyed "watching everyone learn how to do something new."

The male mentors say they came away with something, too.

"We were giving to them but I think most of the men got more out of giving than they received," Little said.

"I just hope this is something they remember for the rest of their lives," Little said. "It gives them the opportunity to tell their families, 'I went to school today and not only did I learn from a academic standpoint, but I was mentored to a certain degree' from some very positive role models."

The WATCH D.O.G.S. initiative encourages fathers, grandfathers and other father figures to volunteer at least one day at their child’s school.

District officials say the number of schools participating in the program has nearly tripled over the past two years.

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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