SANDY — A father is doing his part to stop bullying and secure his children's school.
Jeff Jaramillo has helped Altara Elementary School in Sandy get involved with the national Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) program. He volunteers his time at the school reading and playing with kids, as well as recognizing their good behavior. The program aims to "engage men, inspire children, reduce bullying and enhance the educational environment" at schools.
Fathers, grandfathers, uncles and community members are invited to participate in the program at Altara Elementary School or their own schools.
The program requires a Top Dog at each school — a role which Jaramillo has taken on himself.
"I figure this is the one thing I can do to give back," Jaramillo said. "I think the value of having dads in the school and showing the kids you care about their education by physically being here is going to make a big difference in their lives."
Most of all, though, Jaramillo said he just wants to be a role model for kids.
As Watch DOGS, they also help monitor school security. They check doors, making sure those that are supposed to be secure are locked. They also look for anybody who shouldn't be there.
"We think that having a variety of volunteers here, more adults in the building, might be a deterrent for anybody who might come in and want to cause any problems here at the school," Altara Elementary School Principal Scott Jameson said.
As with all volunteers, the school submits Watch DOGS to screenings.
"Our dads are going to go through the same process that any other volunteer goes through. By state law, all volunteers are required to pass a background check," Jameson said.
They are also required to follow state law regarding firearms in the school. In Utah, it is legal for individuals to concealed carry with a permit in a school. Their role in security is second to their roles as support to the children, though.