Watch DOGS help students, assist teachers on West Madison campus
MADISON – To recruit fathers for on-campus presence, West Madison Elementary School has organized Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students).
“Watch DOGS has been so successful to get our dads more involved,” West Madison counselor Stephanie Allen said. The nationally recognized program is affiliated with the National Center for Fathering.
Students’ fathers are volunteering in car lines, the library, physical education classes, at recess and reading to younger classes and explaining their careers — even devoting an entire day at West Madison.
“Students are proud to see their dads at school. Their faces light up when they say, ‘That’s my dad,'” Allen said. However, every student benefits. “The presence of fathers, grandfathers, step-dads and any men of influence makes a difference.”
With Watch DOGS, fathers realize specific opportunities to help and “gives them a clear avenue on how to do it,” Allen said. “It’s an easy way for dads and other male role models to jump in and help at the school in a way that works with their schedules.”
Last school year, West Madison hosted “Donuts for Dads” as orientation for the program. Later, Watch DOGS Pizza Night honored the men. “The best part of Watch DOGS is that (the men) do their job all year long,” Allen said.
“Watch DOGS did fantastic lessons for Space Week, including designing and launching paper rockets. All teachers love when Watch DOGS help with car line in the morning … sometimes in freezing weather,” Allen said.
Allen believes the male presence “makes everyone feel a little safer. Having the Watch DOGS standing outside or walking halls contributes to the positive atmosphere at West Madison.”
At West Madison, people are treated like family, she said. “We’re so thankful for all moms who serve on PTA, as room moms and in classrooms. They do an amazing job, but they can’t do it all.”
Historically, volunteering at school has been a “mom’s job. Not anymore. Our Watch DOGS are investing in our students. That makes a difference,” Allen said.