Graves Co. elementary schools increase male presence with 'Watch D.O.G.S.' | Schools
GRAVES COUNTY, KY (KFVS) - Graves County’s eight elementary schools, like the vast majority of American elementary schools, have a limited presence of adult males on their faculties and staffs.
Fewer than 3.5 percent of the district’s K-6 elementary classroom teachers (five of 137), special education resource teachers (one of 27), and teaching assistants (two of 63) are men. In the elementary schools, there is only one male principal out of eight and one male family resource center director out of five. None of the elementary cafeteria workers is male. Fewer than two out of five district bus drivers are male. The greatest presence of male employees in the elementary schools is among custodians. Six of the eight schools have at least one.
“Many school children in the 21st century could use more positive male role models. Wingo Elementary School is doing something about that,” said Principal Sarah Saylor. “We’ve implemented a Watch D.O.G.S. program, enlisting dads and father-figures to agree to volunteer at least one day during the school year. While they’re with us, they are an extra set of eyes and ears within the school environment and provide students with the opportunity to witness positive male role models in action.”
“It is a great opportunity for dads to become more involved during the school day and help watch out for our kids,” said John Saylor, a Kentucky State Police detective, the principal’s husband, parent of a kindergarten student, and a Watch D.O.G. “We check to make sure doors are locked, go into classrooms, and talk to kids when we’re out in the hall. They usually initiate the conversation. We really try to help out wherever we can. I’m not above sweeping up or mopping the floor.”
Wingo family resource center director Tana Jones discovered the program at a conference.
“We have about 60 dads trained and currently have had over 20 dads to volunteer,” she explained. “Our own Graves County School Resource Officer, John Cavin, serves as our ‘Top Dog,’ since his daughter is a student at Wingo.”
Watch D.O.G.S. is a national program founded by two fathers whose children attended school in Jonesboro, Ark. It began after the school shooting there.
Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) is designed to “engage men, inspire children, reduce bullying and enhance the educational environment at your school,” according to the organization’s web site. “It is the father involvement initiative of the National Center for Fathering that organizes fathers and father figures in order to provide positive male role models for the students and to enhance school security. Today, more than 2,610 active programs in 44 states participate in the Watch D.O.G.S. Program.”
The site also says, “Dads, granddads, uncles and other father-figures agree to volunteer to spend a day at the school, doing things such as assisting at recess, breakfast and lunch, monitoring hallways and volunteering in their own child's classroom. The program focus is having positive male role models within the school setting on a regular basis.”
Wingo initiated the program at the start of the 2012-13 school year last fall. Approximately 60 men participated in a brief training session and so far approximately 20 have spent time at the school as Watch D.O.G.S.
Stacy Harris, a family resource center director who serves two Graves County schools, says Fancy Farm has had a similar response and has implemented the program.
“Some of our Watch D.O.G.S. visit all day and others’ schedules only allow them to join us for an hour or so at a time,” she said. “We appreciate whatever they can do and are happy to have them with us.”
“I think WatchD.O.G.S. is going over great with the kids,” said Fancy Farm principal Janet Throgmorton, “and the dads seem to like it, too. We introduce the Watch D.O.G.S. who are with us each day during our morning announcements and then we play ‘Who Let the Dogs Out.’ It’s lots of fun and I have no doubt that our kids are benefitting from these positive male role models.”
Harris said Lowes started its program later and also is progressing.
“The WatchD.O.G.S. program is a wonderful opportunity for our students to interact with positive male role models,” said Lowes principal Cheryl Goodman. “Our Watch D.O.G.S. have enjoyed getting to know our students and being a part of a regular school day.”
To learn more about WatchD.O.G.S., log on to www.fathers.com or contact the principal or family resource center at one of the schools.
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