Boys with Purpose club

Raymond Nelson, a student support specialist at Memminger Elementary School in downtown Charleston, teacher Kenneth Joyner and the “Boys with Purpose” club.

“When was the last time you saw someone fighting in a tuxedo?”
Raymond Nelson, a student support specialist who created club “Boys with Purpose” to teach students life lessons (Note: Mr. Nelson originally named it the Young Gentlemen’s Club, but re-named it “Boys With Purpose.”)

A counselor at a Lowcountry school in Charleston, South Carolina is helping young boys become young gentlemen.

Every Wednesday nearly 60 students at Memminger Elementary dress for success and meet for the Boys with Purpose club.

Raymond Nelson is the student support specialist at Memminger Elementary in Downtown Charleston. He works with at-risk children and over winter break thought of an idea to teach his students life lessons.

“I was thinking maybe if I have the boys dress for success,” Nelson said. “When was the last time you saw someone fighting in a tuxedo?”

The motto of Boys with Purpose is “Look good, feel good, do good.”

Every Wednesday, dozens of first through fifth graders walk into class in their Sunday’s best.

“They like the reaction of walking up to classrooms and say, ‘Oh, you look so nice and handsome,’ they just love it,” Nelson said.

Nelson keeps a stash of donated jackets, vests and ties at school for kids who don’t have their own.

“A lot of my students perform well when they know someone cares about them,” Nelson said.

Each week they discuss a new topic like how to shake hands, make eye contact, open doors and address their elders.

Nelson says because some of the younger boys are still at the age where they consider girls to have cooties, he bases his lessons and examples off how they would treat sisters, mothers and their teachers.

“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,” Nelson said.

At his mother’s request, Nelson himself joined a similar group as a child. “It helped me to be a better man and I could spread the knowledge to the young boys,” Nelson said.

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