DELAVAN — A herd of “D.O.G.S.” is expected to soon make its way into Turtle Creek Elementary School. Fortunately, there’s no need to place a warning sign on the school’s front lawn.
These “D.O.G.S.” are very welcome inside the school. They’ll be a part of the new volunteer program that’s starting early in the second quarter called Watch D.O.G.S., or Dads Of Great Students.
There are two main goals of the program:
- To provide positive male role models to students, demonstrating by their presence that education is important.
- To provide extra sets of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying.
“We’re opening our doors even wider to our community,” said Turtle Creek Associate Principal Ramon Reyes, who has worked to bring Watch D.O.G.S. to the school. “Our parents get to come in and be a part of their kids’ schooling. There’s nothing more meaningful than that.”
Reyes said the school does get volunteer help already, but it’s primarily from females. For example, the R.E.A.D.S. mentoring program, the school PTO and the handful of classroom volunteers who come in already are mostly women, he said.
“The research shows that it’s women who are more involved in the educational aspects of their children’s lives,” Reyes said. “We’re looking to reach out to the dads and other male role models and get them involved, too.”
The “D.O.G.S.” volunteers are often the “heroes of the hallways,” according to the program’s website. Reyes said the volunteers come to school for a full day and are essentially put to work. They’ll be helping in the classroom, monitoring hallways and the cafeteria, providing playground supervision and other duties as assigned. Anything to help teachers teach and students learn, they’ll be doing. Reyes said. It is not just an observation program.
“What I have heard from other parents, is they love the opportunity to spend a full day in their son or daughter’s classroom,” said Reyes, who participated as a Watch D.O.G.S. volunteer in his son’s former school. “It gives them the opportunity to see and participate in the everyday routine the kids go through. It also gives parents a piece of mind, knowing what their kids go through on a daily basis and seeing that they are safe and learning. It really helps build our connections between parents and the school.”
The program is currently seeking out and vetting volunteers. Each volunteer is screened and given a background check before they officially become a part of Watch D.O.G.S. It is open to any male figure who plays a significant role in a student’s life, Reyes said. This includes grandfathers, uncles, adult brothers, step-dads and other role models who are considered part of a student’s family.
Volunteers are given a T-shirt and informed of expectations and school rules at an orientation session prior to starting their work.
Volunteers are asked to provide a minimum of one day in the classroom over the school year. Often though, volunteers return for additional days and they’re welcome to, Reyes said. As programs grow, some employers even allow volunteers to take days off work so they can be in the schools, he added.
“For the kids, they feel really proud that their dads are there in school with them,” Reyes said. “As a parent, when I did it, it just made me extremely happy that I could be helping out in my son’s school.
“I look forward to seeing that from our students and their dads. I hope this program grows here at Turtle Creek and eventually in the other schools in our district.”
WANT TO BE A WATCH DOG?
Contact Watch D.O.G.S. Coordinator and Turtle Creek Associate Principal Ramon Reyes, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 262-728-2642 x4399.