Wildcat Nation Volume 1 Issue 1 - Page 28

Ask most adults when their dads came to school and the answer is, “Only when I was in trouble.” In fact, many men haven’t stepped foot in a school building since their high school graduation. Northside Primary is working to change that trend by inviting men to serve on campus through WatchD.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students), a program from the National Center for Fathering. Through WatchD.O.G.S., fathers and father figures spend a day working with Northside students and staff in a variety of ways to support education and safety.

A WatchDOG can be any positive male role model. Last year, the campus had dads, stepdads, grandfathers, uncles, community members, and even law enforcement officers participate. Principal Barbara Dutton said, "WatchD.O.G.S. is the best attended parent involvement program we’ve ever had.” She said that it allows dads time to spend time with their own children as well as serve other kids in school. “It also has given our teachers an opportunity to pair a dad with those kids who need a male role model.”

Northside teachers have become experts at using WatchD.O.G.S. in the classroom. It is not uncommon to find WatchD.O.G.S. listening to Northside students read, helping with sight word practice, reading to the class, or just sitting next to a child who struggles to stay focused. Teacher Kayla Pritchett said that WatchD.O.G.S. also have helped bring up student self-esteem. “After reading to a WatchDOG, they will come back into the room just bubbling and saying, 'He liked how I read.'” Getting that approval from someone other than their teacher is so important, according to Pritchett.

But the best testimony is from WatchD.O.G.S. themselves. Top Dog Joshua Webster said, "Kids look up to guys like us to show them attention.” “Plus,” he added, “I just love to see the smiles on the kids' faces.” According to Webster, WatchD.O.G.S. lets dads “show your kids you care about them, not only when they are doing bad, but when they are doing good.” He said his two boys ask him all the time, “When are you coming back?”

Making a Difference at Northside Elementary