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November 20th, 2019

watch dogs kick offAttendees prepare for the Watch D.O.G.S. kick-off event at MacArthur Elementary School Tuesday evening. The goal of the program, according to coordinators, is to get more fathers in the community to participate in their children’s school days. L&T photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Children need positive role models to help them succeed in school and the rest of life and recently, MacArthur Elementary School in Liberal began a program to help with just that. 

Tuesday evening saw the kick-off of the school’s new Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) program, a family and community engagement educational initiative geared to helping fathers be more involved in their students’ school lives. 

“What we're trying to do is get more positive male role models involved in our schools, we're working to get more dads and other male role models involved on a daily basis,” program coordinator Chad Mease said. “Watch D.O.G.S. is a program that's launched nationally and it's garnered a lot of positive results – the number of behavioral issues has gone down, test scores have gone up and there's been overall much more positive involvement. And it doesn't have to be just dads, it can be grandfathers, uncles, whoever happens to be the male role model in a particular child's life who encourages them in life. It's about getting as many dads and other positive male role models involved as we can. We have 167 days in the school year we have students in the buildings, so that's 167 chances for those men to come and spend a day in the classroom with their student. Mostly, I’m excited about seeing the opportunity be available to people. Typically it's moms who are involved more in the schools, so this is a great opportunity for dads to also be involved with everything. It's also great just having that extra set of eyes in the classroom. ”

Inspiration for implementing the program came as a result of the redesign work, according to MacArthur teacher Jennifer Hofferber. 

“We were going through the redesign process and our staff knew how important it is to involve all members of the family, especially dads, and this was the best program we looked at that would help with that goal,” Hofferber said. “Most of our teachers are women, most of the conferences and drop-off/pickup are taken care of by the moms, so we wanted to bring that positive male role model aspect into the mix. We'd visited some other schools where this was in place and we liked what we saw and heard several success stories, so our staff knew this was the right program for us and what we wanted to do. I'm excited to get dads in the building and see them build better relationships with their children, and this is also a great chance for those dads to possibly be a positive role model in other children's lives.”

Overall, Mease and Hofferber agreed, Watch D.O.G.S. is a very important program for students. 

“They need to realize how important they are in their children's lives and see how their children crave that time and attention from them,” Hofferber said. “So getting them into the schools and letting them be part of that aspect of their lives is great for the students. And I see this program growing, the turnout for Tuesday's event was great, so hopefully we'll be able to keep all this up and maybe we'll get to a point where we'll have two D.O.G.S. in the building each day to keep that outreach going. This is something the other schools should look into, it's a great program and we want to get as many dads in the community as involved as we can.”

“We need these dads to step up and be part of it all. The schools are a big part of the community, they're a big part of the students' lives, and schools can be a very positive influence for students who need it,” Mease added. 

For those who want to participate in the program, they need to only contact the MacArthur Elementary School office at (620) 604-1700. 

“The dads will each sign up for a day to come into the school and they'll stay with us from bell to bell and help with recess and help with lunch duty and some of those things,” Hofferber said. “Then we'll have a Donuts with Dads sometime later in the school year to keep up that outreach and hopefully get more dads in here participating. We’re wanting to see this grow as much as we can.”

Overall, Hofferber and Mease said, they see the program potentially spreading throughout the entire school district. 

“For right now, this program is only going on at MacArthur, but I can honestly see it growing throughout the district,” Mease said. “And not just for the elementary schools, I can also see this being in place in the middle schools and even the high school at some point in the future. It's all about getting more positive role models in these students' lives on a daily basis. I really hope dads take advantage of this opportunity to be more involved in their students' lives, because it's not very often we ask community members to spend a day in our schools. There's a lot we do ask for otherwise but with this, it's really about just taking a day to spend it with your student and hang out in their classroom. It's a real chance for dads to see what's going on in their children's lives and what's going on with them at school. The two big benefits Watch D.O.G.S. pushes are positive role models and security in the schools, those are the big ones. It will be great to get some dads in here to help show that to students who maybe don't have those. We have boys who need to learn how to be good men, and we have girls who need to learn how to be treated by good men. This is a great opportunity to show that.”

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