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By Lauri Heraty
Special to The SUN
More than 80 dads, grandpas, uncles and father figures gathered with their kids at Pagosa Springs Elementary School on Wednesday, April 17, to hear about WATCH D.O.G.S.® (Dads Of Great Students), a new program being implemented at the school.
Nearly 200 guys and kids enjoyed pizza and a presentation by Bret Burrows, director of Pathways to Responsible Fatherhood Advocate for Archuleta County.
WATCH D.O.G.S. is an innovative male role model program that began in 1998 in a single school in Springdale, Ark. It has since grown into a nationally-recognized program that has brought hundreds of thousands of fathers and father figures into our nation’s classrooms and hallways.
WATCH D.O.G.S. has created millions of “in school” volunteer hours and continues to have a tremendously positive impact on the educational process. Today more than 2,811 schools in 46 states plus DC participate in WATCH D.O.G.S.
The goal of WATCH D.O.G.S. is to provide positive male role models for the students, demonstrating by their presence that education is important, as well as provide extra sets of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying.
Dads, grandpas, uncles and father figures volunteer for as little as an hour or, if time permits, a half day or more, involved in a variety of tasks including monitoring the school entrance, assisting with unloading and loading of buses and cars, monitoring the lunch room, or helping in the classroom with a teacher’s guidance by working with small groups of students on homework, flashcards or spelling.
Unfortunately, bullying is all too frequent in our schools and kids are starting at younger and younger ages. There just aren’t enough eyes on the playground and in the lunch room to catch it all. Sometimes, all it takes is the presence of a WATCH D.O.G. to redirect potentially harmful behavior. Something as simple as shooting baskets or throwing the football with kids during recess can have a huge impact on the outcome of their time on the playground. Even sitting down at the lunch table while kids are eating is helpful. Kids get used to seeing the same adults at school and love the opportunity to see a new face.
To get involved in being a WATCH D.O.G., contact Bret Burrows (Fatherhood Advocate, Archuleta County DHS) at 264-2182, Ext. 227, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. A background check and fingerprints are required and, other than that, just the desire to help make a difference in our kids’ lives.