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Power Ranch Dads form Watch DOGS

PWR WATCH DAWGS

The only thing better than visiting dad at work is bringing dad to school -- at least in the eyes of an elementary-aged student.

At Power Ranch Elementary in the Higley Unified School District, fathers, stepdads, grandfathers, uncles and other father figures are signing up as members of Watch D.O.G.S. to become role models at the school.

Watch D.O.G.S., or “Dads of Great Students,” is a nationwide program created in Arkansas in 1998. Since then, thousands of chapters have been established across the country. Power Ranch’s started up two years ago in 2016. The program aims to add a positive male presence to schools to increase security, reduce bullying and set a good example for youth.

Stefan Reid, Watch D.O.G.S. coordinator at Power Ranch, said studies have shown that a positive male role model in a student’s life promotes success.

“A lot of kids don’t really have a dad in the household, so for those kids who don’t have a father figure in their household, the Watch D.O.G.S. really serve as that father figure here on campus. Even if it’s not that dad’s child, they want to be involved and see kids succeed,” Reid said.

Reid said volunteer Watch D.O.G.S. often help with security detail. They patrol hallways, the playground, courtyard and parking lot. This offers the school an additional set of eyes to watch out for children during recess or catch suspicious activity happening on or around campus.

Members sign up to visit at least one day a year, but the program tries to be flexible for all schedules. Reid said he sets up half-day schedules for volunteers that can only arrange an afternoon off from other responsibilities.

“We want it to work for the dad’s schedule, so if they have a set day off and it’s the only day they can come during the week, great! We’re happy to have you that day,” Reid said. “We try and get them as closely matching their child’s schedule as possible, but also we want them seeing the rest of the campus, too, and help(ing) in some of the other teacher’s classes, too.”

Bryan Boutain, father of a sixth-grader, said he enjoyed his first day on campus as a volunteer with Watch D.O.G.S., but said that he most enjoys being able to see his child at school.

“With [my son] this morning, he was up before he normally gets up because he was excited about me coming to school with him,” Boutain said. “My kid in particular does have some challenges with things at school, so this is great for me to actually observe what he does on a regular basis versus hearing about it afterwards.”

Troy Constance, father of a kindergartener, said his son was excited for him to visit his school, too, and was “waiting and waiting” for “the day.” He originally heard about the program during a pizza event the program was promoted at.

“My wife originally signed me up,” Constance said. “It was a pizza night that they had that I brought my son to. It sounded like a great idea, so I decided to check it out.”

The program will promote itself again at a Donuts with Dad event on Dec. 7 in the Power Ranch Gym at 7 a.m. to invite new volunteers to sign up.