Bring in the ‘Watch DOGS’
A Downingtown elementary school continues to have fathers help as Watch DOGS
The Bradford Heights Elementary School bulldogs also have “Watch DOGS” looking out for them.
The elementary school in the Downingtown Area School District will have, for the second consecutive year, fathers participating in a watch DOG program to serve as role-models, as well as an extra set of eyes to help with security purposes. There were only a few days during the last academic year without a Watch DOG present, according to school officials.
Bradford Heights Principal Andrew Hoffert said that one Watch DOG is present per day and they visit numerous classrooms throughout the day to “give everybody the experience.”
This program additionally increases male presence in the building. There are four males employed at the school, including Hoffert.
A National Center for Fathering program, more than 5,350 schools in 47 states participate in the WATCH D.O.G.S. program, according to its website www.fathers.com/watchdogs. The center was established in 1990 following the impacts of fatherlessness nationwide. Watch DOGS, which stands for Dads Of Great Students, is a school-based program with father involvement to support education and safety, according to its website.
“I really felt like I made a contribution,” Watch DOG Robert Osgood said during an informative presentation held Wednesday at the school.
The watch DOGS have a full day scheduled from greeting Bradford Heights students en-
tering the school, helping with classroom activities, assisting with lunch duties and recess for each grade level, monitoring the hallways and saying farewell at the end of the school day. The Watch DOGS are encouraged to play with the students during recess and to converse with them by asking how school is going. Students enjoy playing in the “Gaga pit” donated by the Rotary Club and the Home and School Association.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Watch DOG Matt Morraye. He is returning for his second year.
The students recognize the fathers from their displayed photo, Watch DOG T-shirt, and from remembering them during a prior visit.
“When you walk through that door,” Morraye said, “their faces light up.”
He told the fathers to expect to receive a lot of “high fives” from the students on their way into school, around the building and when they leave for the day. He had a warning.
“Your hand will hurt at the end of the day,” Morraye said with a smile.
He said every dad will be “blown away by what they experience.” For him, it was hearing more about what his two daughters, third and fifth grade students, do at school. He said by having lunch with his daughters, their friends and other students, he learned what they like to talk about and he hears about what they are learning in school.
“It’s really cool to understand what happens in their life because that doesn’t come home,” Morraye said. “When you ask them what they did at school, they say ‘nothing.’”
Parent George Crampton plans to sign up for the program that he said is “good for the kids.” His son Zaiden raved about the program last year. Crampton said he heard “good things” about the program from others. Now in third grade, Zaiden asked his father to consider participating. That was important to Crampton.
“It’s hard because you’re a father trying to work hard to provide your children with a good life and you don’t always get to see what’s going on in their day,” Crampton said, a father of three with one more on the way.
He helps with the Boy Scout activities that Zaiden is involved with, and this is another chance to become more involved. He said this is a “good way to interact with kids.”
For some fathers like Michael Roberts, it is a way to spend more time with his own children as well. With his oldest of three children in first grade, he will have a child attending the first through fifth-grade school for a while. Roberts said he wants to become more involved in their education and “everything they do.” He said the program “sounds great.”
Watch DOG parent Tim Heurich posed last year with his three daughters, from left to right, Taylor, 9, Hailey, 6, and Madeline, 8, during the beginning of the 2015-16 school year. It was the first year the Watch DOGS program was held at Bradford Heights Elementary School. The school is continuing its program this year.
A group of dads sign up on the academic calendar on Wednesday, Sept. 28 to volunteer for a school day as a Watch DOG at Bradford Heights Elementary School. Watch DOGS calls these nights “line up and sign up events.”