Watch DOGS volunteer at elementary school
David Fiest and his 5-year-old daughter, Madelyn, enjoy donuts as they listen to a presentation during a Donuts with Dad breakfast on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Summit Road Elementary School. This was part of the Watch DOGS (Dads Of Great Students) program which works to get fathers more involved in the school. Buy This Photo
Dads are Watch DOGS at Reynoldsburg's Summit Road Elementary School, working to read to students, help with computers or at recess, or even open a stubborn carton of milk at lunchtime.
"I must have opened over 1,000 packets of ketchup, tubes of yogurt, applesauce cups and cartons of milk," parent Paul Sheridan said.
DOGS stands for Dads Of Great Students.
The school kicked off this year's program with a Donuts with Dads breakfast on Saturday, Sept. 22.
"This is an opportunity for dads, grandfathers, stepdads, uncles or any father figure involved in our students' lives to come in and learn about the Watch DOGS program and pick a day or more during the school year to volunteer in classrooms," Sheridan said.
He said there will be another sign-up day for the program in January.
He said more than 100 fathers and father figures are involved in the program this year.
"We are in our second year at Summit," he said. "When the school opened last year, many of the teachers and parents asked if there was going to be a Watch DOGS program, so I volunteered to help kick it off."
Sheridan said he began participating in the program at Taylor Road Elementary School during his son's kindergarten year.
"If you were to count all the in-school hours last year, there were just over 1,100 hours and out of that, we had dads, grandpas and other father figures volunteer for more than 750 of those hours," he said. "That is staggering, if you consider that most fathers will have to take a day off work to do this."
Sheridan said that at the beginning of each school day, a dad volunteer is introduced during the morning announcements and the dad and his child go to the office to have their photo taken.
"We put the pictures up on the wall on our Watch DOGS Hall of Fame board all year for everyone to see," he said.
He said the dads come in for a day or half day and are "an extra set of eyes, ears and hands around the school" and "a positive, strong, role model for students."
"There is never a shortage of things to do," he said.
Sheridan said he enjoys being recognized by students when he is at the grocery store or other places, where a couple of kids might yell, "Hey, Watchdog Dad!"
"It's pretty much go, go, go all day long at the school," he said. "I finish the day just beat, but always feeling a sense of accomplishment. The kids love having us there. My kids are always asking when I am going to be a Watchdog again.
"I enjoy watching my own kids interact with their friends and with their teachers," he said. "I also enjoy getting to know the teachers and all the staff better."
He said another high point is standing at the front door of the school and "getting 100 high-fives as a grade comes in from recess."
"I feel that sting for awhile afterward, too," he said. "It is just a very rewarding feeling at the end of the day to know I've helped make a difference, even a very small difference, in a student's or teacher's day at school."
Watch DOGS is a national program, created by the National Center for Fathering, with active programs in at least 41 states.
"If it was up to me, I would have a Watch DOGS program in every school in the district, K-12," Sheridan said. "The benefits to the students, the families and the teachers just can't be measured."
Information about the program is available online at fathers.com/watchdogs.