Archive for Thursday, November 30, 2006

Watch D.O.G.S. keep an eye on Mize students

November 30, 2006

The halls at Mize Elementary School will soon be filled with dads watching out for their students.

Watch D.O.G.S., short for Dads of Great Students, began Monday at Mize. The program, which was successfully implemented at Starside and Prairie Ridge elementaries last year, sends one father to work with the students at the school for an entire day.

Their first volunteer was a real Watchdog -- Ed Drake with the Olathe Police Department. Drake spent a day off from work with the students at Mize. He helped kindergartners with writing skills, students playing volleyball in gym class and mingled with students in the lunchroom. He also leant teachers a helping hand by keeping students in line and giving them extra attention.

"It's our first day, so we want to make sure kids know about us," Drake said. "I know a lot of these kids from my boys going to school here."

Drake has one son at Mize and one at Monticello Trails Middle School. He said most of the students were glad to see him.

"We just want to teach them to be good role models, be good citizens, be safe at school and make good decisions," he said. "Get as much out of your education as you can."

Drake received a notice about the program and attended a dad's night at Mize. Principal Pam Hargrove said there were 119 dads and 160 kids at the event.

The Watch D.O.G.S. program began in Arkansas after a 1998 shooting at a middle school. A parent, Jim Moore, realized that while many mothers volunteer at schools, sometimes fathers were a missing element.

The program at Starside began last year with fathers visiting almost every school day. The fathers not only provided an educational boost but many also provided an extra bilingual source for students learning English for the first time.

Watch D.O.G.S. follow specific rules of conduct while volunteering, such as wearing identifying T-shirts, using separate bathrooms from the students and not using cuss words.

Hargrove said with the success of Watch D.O.G.S. in other schools, Mize didn't want to miss out.

"We have great volunteers here and we always have," she said. "But to do an entire day, it's a different kind of volunteering. We really do appreciate our volunteers."

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