Brandywine Heights Elementary School hosted a Dads and Kids’ Pizza Night Sept. 28 to kick off a new innovative father involvement program called WATCH DOGS, which stands for Dads Of Great Students.
“The response to Watch DOGS at Brandywine Heights Elementary School has been fantastic!” said Brandywine Heights Elementary School Principal Stephanie Kelly. “For our launch event last week, we had close to 300 fathers and kids attend. About 140 fathers expressed interest in this program and wanting to be more involved. Our next step is to get these dads on the calendar to volunteer. Our first Watch DOG will be volunteering Oct. 25.”
Created in 1998 at George Elementary in Springdale, Arizona, the National Center For Fathering’s father involvement initiative was inspired by one father’s desire to increase male involvement in his children’s school and with the help of the schools teachers and administration. Since then, the program has spread to more than 6,400 schools in over 45 states and other countries abroad.
Kelly explained that bringing the Watch DOGS program to Brandywine was suggested by Mr. Voelker, Assistant to the Superintendent.
“He is a Watch DOG in his daughter’s school. Last year, he spoke to me about the program and how he loved volunteering in his daughter’s school! After hearing great reviews about it, I looked into bringing it to BHES,” said Kelly.
This summer staff researched on what they would need to do to get Brandywine Dads and Father-figures involved at school. The Sept. 28 Pizza Night served as the program launch event to gather interest for the program.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive!” said Kelly. “The purpose of this program is to increase father involvement in their child’s school. Studies by the U.S. Department of Education have demonstrated that a positive adult male role model will have a uniquely positive impact on the development and educational success of a child. The fathers that volunteer in our school will work with our teachers and staff to assist students throughout the day.”
Watch DOG fathers will assist with arrival procedures, work with small groups of students on extra reading or math practice in all grade levels, and help monitor the lunch room and playground during recess.
“While these fathers are volunteering, they would be encouraging students with a lot of smiles and high fives, positively engaging in conversations with students in all grade levels,” she said.
Watch DOGS will be available to mentor students, academically support students by working with them in small groups (reading, flash cards, educational games), help students with test review, coaching games out at recess, and monitor interactions to prevent potential bullying.
“Some students do not have a father-figure present in their home, so these students will gain a positive role model in our school,” said Kelly. “The fathers that participate in this program will gain a greater awareness of the positive impact they can have on their child’s life just by being a ‘dad’ through their meaningful time spent in our school.”
Kelly said the Watch DOGS can also learn how to better partner with the school to meet the educational goals set for students by spending more time in the classroom with the teachers.
“I’m excited to see how this program will grow over time,” said Kelly. “The kids are going to love seeing their own fathers, coaches, uncles, and other father-figures in the school!”
For more information on the WATCH DOGS program, visit www.fathers.com/watchdogs.