The D.O.G.S. are Watching!

Who let the Watch D.O.G.S. out? Why, it was Woodland West Elementary School!

D.O.G.S. stands for “Dads of Great Students,” a father involvement initiative developed by the National Center for Fathering. Through this program, fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, uncles, and other father figures sign up to volunteer for a variety of school activities.

“It’s a great way for us to bring the community into our school,” said Principal Amy Hoyle. “We’re a very important part of this community and we feel like all of our community members should be welcomed on campus.”

The idea for the program was first introduced to Hoyle by Janice Fields, a Woodland West teacher, grandmother, and advocate, who says she makes it a habit to watch the nightly news and takes notes on stories she finds of interest. A recent story about the Watch D.O.G.S. program caught her attention, and she brought the information to the school the very next day. Hoyle gave Fields permission to pursue the program and last month, the program became a reality.

Volunteers with Watch D.O.G.S. are involved in all parts of the school day. They arrive at school early in the morning to greet students as the get off the bus in the morning. They join teachers in class to read to the young students or tutor the older ones. They exercise with the students in P.E. and take out the trash after the lunch periods. The volunteers also help out with the school’s extracurricular activities.

“Many of our children don’t have a male role model at home,” said Janice Fields. “We wanted to make sure that they see positive role models here at school.”

According to Hoyle, the Watch D.O.G.S. uplift the campus and act as a positive force for students. While volunteers are not involved in disciplining the students, Hoyle said that their presence on campus actually helps improve student behavior.

Robert Fields III is the coordinator of the program at Woodland West and one of its most ardent volunteers. Three of his children are students at the school.

“It gives me such a sense of joy to give back to my community in such a positive way,” said Fields. “We have a part in bettering our students spiritually, emotionally, socially and physically.”