The Elizabeth School District is hosting Dads and Kids Pizza Night to introduce a new program at Running Creek Elementary School called Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) at 6 p.m. Jan. 12.
“It’s a father involvement educational …
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“It’s a father involvement educational initiative through the National Center for Fathering,” said Kelly Tarr, school counselor for Running Creek Elementary. “There used to be a really great mentoring program in Elbert County, which is no longer around, and I have a lot of boys who could use a positive male role model in their lives whether their father isn’t available, or they’ve never known their father.”
The program invites dads to work at the school for one day each year as crossing guards, car/bus rider facilitators, hallway monitors, library assistants, lunchroom helpers, classroom and homework tutors, or playground/gymnasium coaches.
“We have a lot of mom volunteers, but we really want to have some dad volunteers and have a positive male role model in our schools rather than always calling dads when their kids are in trouble,” Tarr said.
Tarr explained that having the men in the school demonstrates the importance of education to the students as well as providing a second set of eyes in hallways and the lunchroom, enhancing school security and reducing bullying.
A Watch D.O.G. can be a father, a grandfather or an uncle.
“We even have a couple of interested community members that don’t actually have students at the school, they’re teachers’ husbands or schoolboard husbands, things like that,” Tarr said.
Each Watch D.O.G. undergoes a background check, conducted by the district and attends an orientation to learn the rules and boundaries of their role at the school.
“They sign a contract about the rules. They need to wear a T-shirt so that we can recognize them in our halls, so we know they’ve been through orientation and had their background check. That way teachers aren’t always asking them to go sign in at the front desk,” she said.
Tarr learned about the program at a recent conference and decided to introduce it at Running Creek in the new term.
“I went to a school counseling conference in November in Colorado Springs, and one of the breakout sessions was about WATCH D.O.G.S. After watching the videos they had, I was blown away by the amount of positive things that came from other schools.”
Founded in 1998 at George Elementary in Springdale, Arkansas, WATCH D.O.G.S. has grown to encompass 5,148 schools in 47 states. The program has also expanded internationally to include schools in Barbados, Canada, China, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Last year nearly 400,000 men volunteered for at least one full day as a volunteer.
“I’m really excited about it. I think the teachers are kind of excited. There excited to have a little help in the classroom,” Tarr said. “I hope that dads really come away seeing how hard our teachers are working and enjoy spending one whole day with their kid. That’s all were really asking for is just one day a year.”
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