The Chattanooga City Council has voted to reassign funds used for the Father for the Fatherless program. This program is an initiative that’s aimed at reducing violence in the city through mentoring and services for youth.

LaFrederick Thirkill, principal at Orchard Knob Elementary, says he leads his school by example and his actions as principal are intentional.

“At Orchard Knob Elementary, I'm the father to many of the fatherless,” Thirkill said.

Thirkill says he is aware many of his students don’t come from two-parent households. He said he and his staff work together to bridge the gap between what some students may not be getting at home.

“Kids personalities are set prior to them entering school, research shows sometimes as early as age three,” Thirkill said.

He said he can see the impact of those who are growing up without a father.

“Trying to imitate me, for instance, I'll see young boys come in wearing bowties, or wearing ties or they'll come in and say, 'Mr. Thirkill, I'm dressed up like you,'” Thirkill said.

Although the city won't be funding the Father to the Fatherless program, Thirkill says he hopes that won’t stop men from mentoring.

“We have enough men to step up and be role models for our young boys in this city,” Thirkill said.

The money that typically goes towards the program has not yet been predesignated.

“You are going to support them one way or another; either going to support them on the frontend or you're going to support them on the backend when they get in trouble,” Thirkill said.
Channel 3 also reached out to the mayor's office about the program being defunded, and they did not want to release a statement at this time.