Bring in the ‘Watch DOGS’

A Downingtown ele­men­tary school con­tin­ues to have fa­thers help as Watch DOGS

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Gin­ger Rae Dun­bar gdun­bar@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @GingerDun­bar on Twit­ter

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.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

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.”

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