Watch DOGS program gets dads involved

Photo from L’Anse Area Schools Peter Dove, right, participates in the Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) program at L’Anse Elementary School.

The L’Anse Area elementary school has added a Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) Program to promote parent involvement.

The start of the program was announced at the January school board meeting.

“We’re starting to kick off that program to encourage parental involvement, especially from the dads,” Superintendent Susan Tollefson said. “A lot of other schools that use it have a lot of positive things to say about it.”

Watch Dogs allows dads or other male figures to attend school for a day as a volunteer.

“It’s a great way to get male figures to volunteer in the schools and the classrooms,” said program organizer Darren Voskuhl.

He said teachers are always looking for family members to volunteer.

The men, dressed in watch dog shirts, have the opportunity to be involved in four classes for 45 minutes, help students get on and off the buses, monitor hallways and attend lunch and recess with the children.

The parents can choose to either be in just their kids class or go to others as well.

Board member Allan Dantes was the first parent to do a trial of the program.

“With four different teachers in four different grades, I learned quite a bit,” he said.

Voskuhl explained the importance of having male figures in the classrooms and how there are mainly women.

“I think the big thing is just having the fathers involved with their kids or grandkids academics. Just being there for a day, the kids feel so proud to have them in here,” said Voskuhl.

The program is starting to gain volunteers but is still seeking more.

Last week the program had dads volunteer for four of the five days. Of those who have already participated, he said, they all want to come back.

“The kids love it,” Voskuhl said. “Teachers love it. They’re excited.”

He added, “It’s been an extremely positive experience and is starting to get out there more. The more people are doing it and talking about it, the more phone calls I’m getting to sign up.”