Elementary WATCH D.O.G.S. Brings Dads into Schools
In the 8th year of WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) at Lake Dallas ISD, the nationally recognized program now boasts more volunteers at LDISD elementary schools. Started at Lake Dallas Elementary (LDE) in 2010 and expanded to Corinth Elementary (CE) and Shady Shores Elementary (SSE) in 2012, the program is an innovative father involvement volunteer initiative that brings fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers, uncles, and other father figures into the school. Volunteers serve at least one day a year in a variety of school activities as assigned by the school principal.
The Watch D.O.G.S. volunteers provide assistance at the school by performing a variety of tasks during their volunteer day. Tasks include monitoring school entrances, parking lots, playground and lunchroom, assisting with loading of buses and cars, and helping in the classroom by working with small groups of students.
The program goals are to provide positive male role models for the students, demonstrating by their presence that education is important and to provide extra school security and reduce bullying.
“The extra layer of security that Dads bring to the school is reassuring to students, teachers and staff,” Principal Vangee Deussen, Corinth Elementary said. “The extra layer of joy that Dads can bring is a pleasure also. These are in addition to the help they bring to the students and teachers that impact our students’ education.”
Each campus or school in the WATCH D.O.G.S. program is directed by the campus principal and led by a “Top Dog.” The Top Dogs this year are Marcus Unuigbey and Bernardo Benitez at CE, Michael Barnhart at LDE, and Michael Evans at SSE.
Evans, in his second year in the program at SSE, volunteers to give back to the community.
“It’s a small way to give back,” Mr. Evans said. “I learned in sports that Team stood for Together Everyone Achieves More and I feel that applies to Watch D.O.G.S. I see our community as one big team and if we all get involved, we will all be better.”
Travis Cattell was one of the first dads to sign up at Lake Dallas Elementary in 2010. He served as a Watch D.O.G. and Top D.O.G. at LDE in 2010 and 2011, and was the first Top D.O.G. at SSE when the program was implemented there in 2012.
“The program is a great way for dads and male role models to spend time with their kid in their daily environment so that they have a better understanding of their child’s life,” Mr. Cattell said. “The kids love it and it makes them feel special and important. The program also highlights the way dads are becoming more involved in children’s life on the education side.”
Campuses are continuously signing up men for the 2018-19 school year. It’s never too late in the school year to join. Volunteers are added throughout the year. As with all LDISD volunteers, each potential Watch D.O.G. must complete the online volunteer process which includes a yearly criminal history background check.
WATCH D.O.G.S. is one of the nation’s largest and most respected school-based, family, and community engagement, organizations in the country. Since the program’s creation in 1998, more than 6,450 schools across the country have launched a WATCH D.O.G.S. program of their own. Each school year hundreds of thousands of fathers and father-figures make a positive impact on millions of children by volunteering millions of hours in their local schools through this amazing one-of-a-kind program.