A new program inviting students’ fathers to get involved at school is set to launch at Clark-Vitt Elementary in the coming weeks.
WATCH D.O.G.S., or Dads of Great Students, is a father involvement educational initiative headed by the National Center for Fathering. According to the program’s website, its primary goals are to provide positive male role models for students and to provide an extra set of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying
Clark-Vitt Elementary Principal Aaron Burd started planning for the implementation at his school over the summer and said he hopes for a big turnout at the launch event Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 6:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m., at Clark-Vitt.
“Being a male in education, as well as a father myself, I see the importance,” Burd said. “I know not every kid is fortunate enough to have that male role model in their lives. It was something that really clicked with me and that I thought was important.”
The program is one of the nation’s largest school-based family and community engagement organizations in the county, according to WATCH D.O.G.S. website. It was created in 1998 and currently more than 6,450 schools across the country have a running program.
Dads, or father figures, of students who get involved in the program will be tasked with spending a day volunteering at Clark-Vitt, helping out around the school with tasks as simple as greeting students.
“You’re taking a day you could be doing something else and you’re volunteering for a day here,” Burd said. “You could spend the entire day there going to classes, greeting students, participating in lunch and recess and just kind of volunteering in classrooms and hallways throughout the day.”
Burd said he and several other fathers of students at Clark-Vitt have been preparing for the upcoming launch by recruiting TOP D.O.G.S. throughout the elementary school’s community. He said these dads are tasked with getting more dads to sign up at the launch event and set the “WATCH D.O.G.S. example.
He added that the program offers fathers and father figures a unique chance to see what a school day looks like through their child’s eyes. He said, as a dad, he knows sometimes asking how his children’s days at school are isn’t enough.
“I think it has a lot of benefits and I would love to be able to see some dads feel comfortable come in and see what goes on on a daily basis,” Burd said. “Dads don’t necessarily get a great glimpse of what that day looks like from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and I’d love for them to come in and be a part of it.”
The launch event will be a free pizza night for fathers, or father figures, and their children. After the first half of the event, a local girl scout troop will watch the students while the fathers watch a video explaining what it means to be WATCH D.O.G.S.
Burd said he wasn’t sure how many dads will attend the event, but said he hoped as many as the last “dads” event the school had, which drew nearly 200 fathers and special guests.
“Hopefully the word will spread and others will continue to show interest in it,” Burd said.
A second launch event will be held in January where more dads will be invited to learn about the program.