Tie Tuesday with my Kings

Like most men I learned the art of tying a tie from my father. It was one of those special things that was passed down from father to son. It was around high school when I was part of the homecoming court and had to dress up that my father helped me to learn to tie a tie. Even then I was never really much of a tie guy. I saw wearing a tie as corny. Fast forward some ten years later and now I am an adult. I am not a father, but I am a principal of an all-boys middle school. Many of my students, or kings as I call them, do not have the luxury of a having a father to teach them these things. So I teach them.

Now, as a 29 year old principal I find myself wearing a suit and tie every day to work. A far cry from the 18 year old I used to be who hated dressing up and hated wearing a tie. As I explained to my students about why I, Mr. McGuire, wear a tie every day, it means a lot more than they realized. I explained to them that wearing a tie is a part of my uniform just as wearing the school uniform is something they have to do.

I must say, there is a good feeling that I get when I wake up, get dressed and put on my tie. I find myself feeling good, ready to tackle the day. It reminds me of something I heard NFL hall-of-famer Jerry Rice say on why it takes him so long to get ready for a game. He said, “Look good, feel good, and play good.” He was right; if you look good it gives you confidence, if you feel good, thoughts are clearer, and consequently, performance is better and productivity is higher. We profess to them every day that they are Kings and they are not meant to be at the bottom. We tell them they have a higher purpose in the world and the world is their throne upon which they just have to be ready to sit.

Tie Tuesday

We started Tie Tuesday at Tindley Preparatory Academy because I wanted to teach my students the art of tying a tie and, perhaps more importantly, what it means to wear a tie. I also wanted to see how wearing a tie changed the way in which my students felt about themselves and if it changed their performance in school.

I studied many factors on Tie Tuesday. The way in which students walked through the hallway and did they walk with a different confidence. I wanted to see if there was a change in the way they interacted with one another. I looked to see if there was a decrease in discipline referrals. Tie Day was more than just a day on which they could be slightly out of uniform; for many, it was the first time in their life that they wore a tie they tied themselves. They were learning at an early age that it is pretty cool to wear a tie and it does make you feel good. They also learned that their principal wasn’t strange for wearing one every day.

Tie Tuesday is only two weeks old, but I have quickly seem the impact it has had on my young men. They ask me every day, “Mr. McGuire can we wear a tie again” and  “when is the next Tie Tuesday.” I tell them I promise we will have it again. I never expected them to really enjoy this day as much as they have, but I am so appreciative that they have.

When I asked one of my students how he felt about Tie Tuesday, he had this to say:

Tie Tuesday is cool and it allows us to live out a part of creed on what it means to be a Genius and Gentleman.

If you’d like to  support Tie Tuesday at Tindley Preparatory Academy please donate any new or gently used ties to Tindley Preparatory Academy 4010 North Sherman Drive Indianapolis, IN 46226.

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David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.