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Watch D.O.G.S. promotes dad participation at local schools

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By Sandie Banks

A new local program will soon put Watch D.O.G.S. on patrol in the halls at the local elementary schools. These will not be the four-legged furry kind, however; these will instead be the Watch Dads of Great Students. 

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The program was designed by the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization whose goal is to “reverse the cultural trend toward fatherlessness by helping every dad learn how to be a father.”

Locally, Kathryn Winn Primary and Cartmell Elementary have chosen to participate and held a Watch D.O.G.S. event on Aug. 29 at Cartmell. Fathers and father figures spent time enjoying free pizza with their children, then the dads watched a short informational video about the program, while their children enjoyed a magic show by Magic Dan.

Brad Horner, father of a five-year-old daughter, came to the event and signed up because he believes “kids are important.”  Horner said he thinks this program will benefit the entire community and that “more guys need to get out there and be involved with their kids.”

Nick Marsh, who has worked with families and juveniles in the legal system for several years, said he sees the lack of positive male role models in the home as a common theme.  “This is an opportunity, dads do make a difference,” he said. Marsh attended the event and signed up as a Watch D.O.G.S. volunteer at his son’s school because, despite being involved with many things, he said he is “a dad and a husband first,” and believes that his son is his first priority.

Jason Darnold, who has a child in each school, has signed up as a Watch D.O.G.S. volunteer at both schools.  He came to the event “to find out what thewas about.”  Darnold believes in “student interaction” and he looks forward to being an overall help in the schools. 

A daily schedule for Watch D.O.G.S will look something like this: they will arrive at school in the morning and receive a shirt to wear with the Watch D.O.G.S logo. They will then assist with unloading of buses and drop off areas. 

During announcements, they will be introduced.  There will be a photo taken of them and their child for the Wall of Fame. They will then volunteer in rooms and patrol the building area.

At lunchtime, the Watch DO.G.S will be encouraged to eat lunch with their child and then interact with the children at recess. The morning routine will repeat and then at the end of the day they will go complete a survey on the experience and, lastly, assist with dismissal at the end of the day.

Robin Huesman, Family Ties Coordinator, said there were 359 attendees at the event.  That included 153 fathers, or father figures, and 206 children. One local father called it a “monster turn out.”

Other fathers in attendance seemed to reflect the same sentiment of Horner, Marsh and Darnold.  Many signed up the night of the event, while others waited for their background check to return.  To be a Watch D.O.G.S. volunteer, fathers must have a background check on file with the Board of Education.  To find out more about the program, see the fathers.com website. If you are interested in becoming a Watch D.O.G.S volunteer, contact Family Ties at (502) 732-7008.