I was approached by our booster club president at our local elementary school about a program called WatchD.O.G.S. It stands for “Dads Of Great Students” and is a simple program to get dads involved in their childrens school.

Most of us Dads spend our day at work while our kids are in school. Our kids come home, we ask how their day went, they say OK without much detail and they go on to their homework, play outside, immerse themselves in video games etc. Mom’s tend to manage the kids and their work schedule and dads  attend an open house from time to time.

I did a bit of researh on fathers.com about this “WatchD.O.G.S.” program and was quite impressed. It was founded by a dad named Jim Moore back in 1998 in Arkansas. He was inspired to take action after watching the horrific tragedy unfold in Jonesboro, Arkansas at Westside Middle School. It was the event where 2 childeren pulled the fire alarm on the school and waited outside in the woods. As students and people filed outside, the 2 children opened fire killing 4 students, one teacher and injured 10 others.

Jim had the thought that he, like most others watching said to themselves “that could never happen at my school” but then he realized that all the parents at Westside Middle School probably thought the same thing before this happened.

He decided to found a program called WatchD.O.G.S which would incorporate a dad’s involvement at school on a daily basis. If you visit the www.fathers.com you will see what I’m talking about in much more detail.

The simple breakdown is that dads, grandfathers, uncles etc.  get together at the beginning of the year for a get together “Pizza” event usually put on at the school gym for themselves and their kids. (we had about 85 men and 120 kids!) The TOP DOG informes them about the program while the kids play. After the presentation they asked to volunteer for at least 1 day during the school year to come to school and “hang out” for the day. That’s it. Hanging out can mean lots of things. Helping students stay safe boarding busses, reading to a child, eating lunch with the kids, hanging out at recess etc. It doesn’t sound like much but once you see the response from the student body you realize how much they really like having a male role model at school.

At my son’s Pizza event it was evident that the dads just never felt like they were invited to participate in a way they felt comfortable. Once they understood how simple it was the sign up response was extrordinary. We had 85% of the school days scheduled for at least 1 dad to be there by the end of the get together. People are still signing up now. Some dads volunteered to be there 1 day a year all the way to some that signed up for 1 day a week for the entire year. It was a great response and a response that tells me dads really want to be involved in their childrens lives but there just haven’t been that many opportunities other than sports to do so.

If you are a dad and are feeling you want to be more a part of your childs lfie here’s your chance. Visit Fathers.com and read about the WatchDOGS program.  If you have any questions please feel free to email or call me and I can fill you in on any more details. It’s a great program, very inexpensive to get started and very simple which is what is appealing to most of us dads!

Mike Corbin

TopDog, Meadowdale Elementary

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