FOLEY - For three years, Foley Intermediate School has participated in the national program Watch D.O.G.S., or Dads Of Great Students. The program, which began out of Arkansas after a school shooting …
FOLEY - For three years, Foley Intermediate School has participated in the national program Watch D.O.G.S., or Dads Of Great Students. The program, which began out of Arkansas after a school shooting got local dads asking what more they could do in the schools, is a great way to provide men the chance to help out in schools, both with education and security. FIS held a kick off event on Thur. Sept. 5 with Pizza Night with Dad, allowing parents and students to come to school during the evening for dinner, to learn more about the program and to “line up and sign up.”
“This program offers a way to get parents into the school to see the great things that we’re doing, to get them involved with the school, and to have an extra set of eyes and ears on campus for security,” said Dr. Shannon McCurdy, principal. “It offers a great mentoring opportunity. A lot of kids do not have dads or father figures in their lives, or if they do they’re not always positive role models. Part of this program is to get those positive role models in the schools so kids can see them working, helping, being involved, and give them somebody to go to.”
The program isn’t just for dads, either. Any father figure is welcome to sign up, from fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, and uncles, as well as any moms who wish to become a Watchdog. Though the program began as a way to get dads involved in schools, everyone is welcome to participate.
When you signup with Watch D.O.G.S., the program asks that one day of the school year be spent in school from start to finish. Before becoming a Watchdog, a background check is required by the Board of Education, and costs $17.50. Once complete, the school must be contacted to set up which date you will be coming for the program. On that date, the program begins with the Watchdog reporting to the office to get a brief orientation on what will be happening throughout the day and to receive a detailed schedule of what they’ll be doing. The day begins in class with your student, but afterwards Watchdogs go to other classrooms as well as spend time patrolling the hallways. Lunch is eaten in the cafeteria engaging with the students, and at least one PE class is attended to assist the coaches. While in the classroom, the Watchdogs are asked to help students with projects and homework, read to the class, and help the teacher with daily activities. Finally, the day ends at carline, followed by a survey on how the program went.
But why join the Watch D.O.G.S. program?
“The rate of fatherless children ranges between 35 and 75 percent of the student population,” said school bus driver Dean Rick at the signup event. “A divorced dad does not mean a bad dad, nor does a married dad mean a good dad. There are two kinds of fatherlessness: there’s the physical and the emotional. The physical is where the dad is not there at all for the child, and emotional is where the father is living in the same house but is not emotionally engaged in the life of that child.”
Rick states that studies from the US Department of Education have shown that by having a positive male role model actively engaged in the lives of students each and every day, the child develops more fully socially, academically, emotionally and spiritually. Some major social and economic categories that are affected by the presence of a positive male role model are: poverty, crime, teen pregnancy, health, and education, Dean said.
During the second year of the program, 190 people signed up, and the FIS staff is hoping the program continues to grow both in their own school as well as throughout the area.
“School staff members have been given the awesome responsibility for caring for your children, and we embrace it everyday and hope to embrace the parents into our Foley Intermediate family as well,” said McCurdy. “We hope to have them here on campus as an extra set of eyes to help watch the kids, because it takes a village to raise a child, and everyone is part of that village. We’re a community, we’re a family, and we have to come together as a community and as a family to help raise our children together. We’re not going to ask anyone for money or for anything monetary, we are just asking for your time.”
For anyone with a student at Foley Intermediate who was unable to attend the signup event, you can still become a Watchdog for the remainder of this school year. Simply visit Foley Intermediate’s website (www.bcbe.org/foleyim) and follow the link to the background check if you do not already have one; once approved, contact school counselor Sherry Rainbolt (email@example.com or 251-943-1244) to learn more details and to pick a date that works for you to spend at the school.
For more information on the Watch D.O.G.S. program, visit www.fathers.com/watchdogs.