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Watch DOGS at Horizon focused on their children

In recent weeks, more men have been on campus at Horizon Elementary School as part of an initiative called “Watch DOGS” (Dads of Great Students).

“The reason we started this program at Horizon is because we saw a need to increase the male presence and mentoring,” Principal Rodney Richardson said. “We need to have more men in the lives of our kids. I saw an opportunity and a need.”

Response from Horizon fathers has been “amazing,” Richardson said. “Donuts for Dads was the kickoff with more than 200 men who turned out. Since then, 90 men have signed up who want to participate with Watch DOGS.”

“We invited dads, grandfathers and uncles to Donuts for Dads and asked them to sign up and volunteer,” Horizon counselor Patty Bill said.

At Horizon, the Watch DOGS not only serve as role models but also help in female-concentrated duties, like directing in the car line, lunchroom duty, hall monitors, reading to classes, helping secretaries, tutoring and shelving library books.

A national organization, Watch DOGS is the father involvement initiative of the National Center for Fathering that organizes fathers and father figures in order to provide positive male role models for the students, Bill said.

Today, more than 2,276 active programs in 41 states participate in Watch DOGS.

“We are extremely excited about the participation so far with Watch DOGS,” Bill said. “Twenty dads already have volunteered and are participating.”

Children notice and usually appreciate a parent, especially a father, who volunteers at the child’s school. “Just the presence of a male role model in any student’s life has a profound affect on their education and life,” Bill said.

Dads can ‘adopt’ another child to mentor or tutor. “If a student doesn’t have a dad in his or her life, the Watch DOG dad can be a mentor for that child,” Bill said. “Any tutoring that would take place would be in the partnership with the classroom teacher.”

For more information, call Richardson or Bill at 256-464-3614.

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