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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Watch DOGS program kicks off at Highland Schools

Sunday, October 9, 2011

David and Timmy Wiles take a moment to pose during the annual Watch D.O.G. S. program kick off at the Highland Middle School Sept. 28. Pizza and an introduction to the program were provided as fathers and male father figures signed up to volunteer during the school year. [Order this photo]
Sometimes great things come from the worst tragedies, and nothing could be truer than the WATCH D.O.G.S. program. Begun in response to the 1998 Westside Jonesboro School shootings, the program invites male interaction in every day school activities, and has spread to 40 states and New Zealand. Highland Middle School hosted its "Dad and Kids Pizza Night" on Sept. 26 at the A.L. Hutson Memorial Center to seek volunteers.

As one of Highland's most successful programs, WATCH D.O.G.S., an acronym for Dads of Good Students, is in its third year at the school, and Vice Principal Meg Barnes says it is wonderful to see the dads interact with the children.

In years past, room mothers brought special homemade snacks and helped out, but the dads were rarely incorporated into the classroom learning process.

Today, they get to take part in every aspect of the children's days and stay for the entire day, not just snack time.

Watch D.O.G.S. started in 2009 at the Cherokee Elementary School and, due to the overwhelming success of the program, the following year it was also incorporated into the middle school.

The goal of the WATCH D.O.G.S. program is to eventually be in every school in America, and assist in positively influencing children by the commitment and involvement of father and father figures into the children's lives.

The male father figures came out to enjoy pizza and an introduction to the program. Each was asked to sign up for at least one full day of volunteering at the school.

During the day, the men help with monitoring the school entrance, assisting with bus loading and unloading, monitoring the cafeteria, helping teachers in the classroom and working with smaller groups on homework and other activities.

The program was the brainchild of Jim Moore, of Springdale, Ark., who wanted to create a way to prevent school violence following the Westside shootings. The program began at George Elementary School in Springdale, where his child attended.

The effectiveness has been overwhelming. Beginning in 2003, a survey of participating schools showed 89 percent of the schools were in agreement the program was a valuable way to promote a safe and positive learning environment.

WATCH D.O.G.S. has also created a 79 percent increase in male father figure involvement in such things as parent teacher conferences, PTA and classroom volunteering. The program has been incorporated nationally in the U.S. Department of Education's Father Involvement in Education Project.

Any father or male father figure who has not had the opportunity to work with the program is encouraged to do so. At the Highland Schools event, numerous dads signed up to volunteer for the school year.

Many children said they like having their fathers spend the day with them during school.

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