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Watch D.O.G.S. improve safety, help with education in Utah schools

By Tania Mashburn | Posted - Sep. 16, 2014 at 11:08 p.m.


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BOUNTIFUL — Bountiful Elementary School is home of the Bobcats, a second home to 500 kids, and a regular hangout for dozens of dads. They're called "Watch D.O.G.S (Dads Of Great Students)" but they might as well be rock stars.

"He's kind of a great dad because he helps out at school, and he has like six first aid kits," said Ryan, a second-grade student.

"He goes on the playground and makes sure nobody does mean things," second-grader Andi said about her dad.

"I like having him here," said first-grader Zac. "He's never been there because he's always at work."

Kristi Koger started the national Watch D.O.G.S. program at Bountiful elementary, her children's school, last year.

"They don't get to see their dads as much as their moms, traditionally," Koger said, "so it's like, 'my big superhero of a dad is here in school and I get to show him to all my friends,' and they're so cool to be around."

Here's how it works: Dads sign up to volunteer for a whole day at school, just to be there for the kids and help wherever they're needed.

"It's a good time to just see what they're doing, but at the same time help them out and see the excitement on their face when their dad shows up," said Matt Nielsen, a Watch D.O.G.S. member.

Another member of Watch D.O.G.S, Dallas Smith, showed KSL News what a typical day is like, starting with crosswalk duty then moving straight into the classroom.


They read with (the students), they do one-on-one stuff, they do flash cards, they read stories, they go in the library and help them suggest books and check out books, and then also they're out on the playground.

–Kristi Kroger, Watch D.O.G.S. organizer


"They read with them, they do one-on-one stuff, they do flash cards, they read stories, they go in the library and help them suggest books and check out books, and then also they're out on the playground," Koger explained.

It's a chance for these dads to be an active part of the children's education, but it's more than that.

"We don't have any male staff in our school, not even janitors, and I think we need that," Koger said. "Men and women are different, and they bring something different to the table."

Organizers say having a dad out at recess and in the lunchroom cuts down on bullying, and having an extra set of eyes checking safety measures, like patrolling the parking lot and testing locked doors, brings peace of mind to parents and teachers.

"They want to know who's coming into the school and they don't want anybody coming in who shouldn't be coming in," said Smith.

There are currently more than 4,000 schools in 46 states that participate in the Watch D.O.G.S. program. Forty-nine of those schools are in Utah. Many parents and teachers hope those numbers will grow exponentially.

If you would like to start a Watch D.O.G.S. program at your school, visit www.fathers.com/watchdogs for more information.

Contributing: Mike Headrick

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Tania Mashburn

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