Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021 | 2 a.m.
Inside a lively classroom at Marion Earl Elementary School, Andrew Netherton is determined to turn boys into respectful young men — and they all look good doing it.
Netherton, a fourth-grade teacher, runs a before-school club called Guys With Ties where the members meet, dressed for success, to learn the gentlemanly arts: Politeness. “Ma’am” and “sir.” Handshakes. Sportsmanship. Grace. Good hygiene. Table manners. How to be a thoughtful friend and student. To be kind to people with disabilities. “Things they’ll need to know in the future,” Netherton said.
And soon enough, they’ll learn how to tie a real necktie — no clip-ons.
Courtesy comes naturally to Caden Taylor, 9, one of about 25 boys in Guys With Ties.
“I always wanted to learn how to be more of a gentleman and genuinely just how to be more of a better person,” he said. His parents tell him he has to be a good example for his 3-year-old brother.
Dressing sharp is appealing, too. (Netherton said that gets kids in the door.)
“The attire is very, very nice,” said Caden, who wore a blue button-up shirt and black tie to school Tuesday. “I’ve always preferred this over sweatpants and shorts.”
Ezra Binson, 9, knows to say “yes” instead of “yeah.” That’s something his dad also teaches him.
“I do love being a gentleman because I want to do nice manners,” he said.
Netherton is a “cool teacher” with a grasp of pop culture, a stylish shaved-side haircut and every day a pin-neat suit. On Tuesday, it was a blue three-piece with a yellow boutonniere, polka-dotted pocket square and monk-strap buckled shoes.
Netherton said he had strong relationships as a child with his father and grandfather, and being from Kentucky, was raised with Southern decorum. He hopes to bring the fruits of that here.
He also uses the children’s etiquette book “50 Things Every Young Gentleman Should Know” to guide him.
The book starts out with reminders on how to say “please,” “thank you” and “excuse me,” then gets specific on personal and pet care (Don’t sniff a dirty shirt to see if you can wear it again, and don’t wait until your cat’s litter box reeks before scooping it out. A gentleman doesn’t do these things.)
“What gets them excited, at the beginning of the year I have them look through it and they tell me what things that they don’t know anything about, things that interest them, things they’d like to know more about,” Netherton said.
He said his boys especially liked showing that they knew how to greet people with a firm handshake and eye contact. It establishes a strong, positive presence.
Netherton said kids of this generation were willing to learn what he was privileged to know at their age. They just need someone to teach them. And he said his students’ parents loved it.
Girls will start meeting soon at the similar Leading Ladies, where they will learn manners, professional dress, confidence and empowerment. Megan Jefferies, who teaches fourth grade across the hall from Netherton, is one of the advisers. She said her girls were already excited.
Earl Elementary’s front office will accept new and gently used dress clothes and shoes for boys and girls ages 9 to 11 in size children’s large through adult small. That includes neckties — and they don’t have to be clip-on. Call the school at (702) 799-8181 to arrange drop-offs.