Dads get involved through WATCH D.O.G.S. program

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More fathers are volunteering in the Carroll County School District as a result of the WATCH D.O.G.S. program.  WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) is a second-year program at Kathryn Winn and Cartmell Elementary that brings fathers and father figures into the schools to serve as positive male role models for students. 

“The idea behind WATCH D.O.G.S. is to have father figures be positive role models not only for their own children but also for other students in the school,” Family Ties coordinator Robin Huesman said.

The men sign up to spend all day at their child’s school. They rotate from one classroom to another, one of which will be their own student’s. The volunteers help in classrooms and supervise in the hallways, on the playground and in the cafeteria. However, their main role is that of a friend and an advocate.

“Before the WATCH D.O.G.S. program, we didn’t have any dads in the building,” Kathryn Winn Principal Gerda Wise said. “The program has become a way for dads to become part of our school’s culture, and the children love it when their dads are there. They count down the days until their dads are in the school.”

WATCH D.O.G.S. can volunteer as little as one day each year, so there is no long-term commitment to volunteering.

“We understand that dads are busy,” Wise said.  “However, a dad can take off one day from work and make a difference in the school.”

All WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteers must pass a background check and sign a contract that explains the basics of the program. 

“All of the students are excited to see one of the WATCH D.O.G.S. in the building,” Winn Family Ties coordinator Cydney Conley said.  “The students beg me to call their dads to see if they will be one of the WATCH D.O.G.S.”

Conley said that members of the community are welcome to be part of the program as well. It is not mandatory for volunteers to have children in the school.

A typical schedule for a WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteer will start with greeting the students as they enter the school building.  Then, there is a schedule to follow, where the volunteer will rotate through different classes, helping the teachers and the students as needed. WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteers also get to eat lunch with their own student and help out in the cafeteria.

“It is great to see the kids get so excited,” Carrollton Police Officer Tim Gividen said, a veteran member of the WATCH D.O.G.S. program. “If you are thinking about being part of this program, just do it. It’s incredibly rewarding.”

According to the National Center For Fathering’s website (fathers.com), the WATCH D.O.G.S. program aims to put positive male role models in public schools who will highlight the importance of education, “enhance school security and reduce bullying.”

The Carroll County School District values the impact that fathers and father figures can have not only on the educational process but also on the social and emotional wellbeing of all students. Joining the WATCH D.O.G.S. program is a great way to take part in making the community a better place.    


Carl Roberts is director of public relations for Carroll County Public Schools.