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Watch D.O.G.S. brings dads into schools

By BY KAYLA BELL - KBELL@VICAD.COM
Sept. 17, 2011 at 4:17 a.m.
Updated Sept. 18, 2011 at 4:18 a.m.

Fathers volunteer to spend at least one day at Rowland Elementary School as hallway monitors, homework tutors or lunchroom helpers. The Watch D.O.G.S., or Dads of Great Students, program aims to get fathers and father figures in schools to provide positive male role models for kids.

HOW TO JOIN WATCH D.O.G.S.

Last year's Watch D.O.G.S. program started at Schorlemmer, Chandler, Shields and Dudley elementary schools and has expanded this year to include every elementary school in VISD.

To find out how you can get involved, contact your school.

For more information on the program and other resources, go to fathers.com.

FACTS ON FATHERS

Studies done by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have highlighted the importance of male figures being involved in schools.

Research indicates:

Father involvement in schools leads to higher likelihood of students getting mostly A's, whether it's a biological or stepparent.

Students living in homes absent of a father are twice as likely to repeat a grade in school.

Children without involved fathers are twice as likely to drop out of school.

Source: National Fatherhood Initiative

Fifth-grader Jacqueline Hill had been calling her father's cell phone all afternoon, double- and triple-checking if he was still on his way to her school that evening.

"I didn't want to let her down. If Daddy lets her down, she lets me know it," Harold Hill said, grinning at Jacqueline.

Hill, 45, and his daughter were sitting at a lunch table in Rowland Elementary School, having just downed some pizza and learned about the school's new Watch D.O.G.S. program.

Watch D.O.G.S., which stands for Dads of Great Students, is an initiative that aims to get fathers and father figures into schools for both security and student support.

Last year, four Victoria schools implemented the nationwide program. This year, every elementary school in the district got on board.

"I want to see that male influence back in the schools and let those kids have those positive role models," said Sabre Sparkman, who's heading up the program at Rowland Elementary.

As many as 87 fathers who had RSVP'd to the kickoff event held their son's or daughter's hands, escorting them into the cafeteria crammed with testosterone. One after another, the dads, stepdads, grandpas and other father figures signed their names to an oversized, wall-length calendar, pledging to spend at least one day in their child's school.

The men will work alongside educators as hallway monitors, lunchroom helpers, homework tutors, coaches, readers, or, as Principal James Taylor said, simply high-fiving the kids.

To fulfill his Watch D.O.G.S duties, Hill promised to work around his schedule as the manager of tire sales at a Victoria auto store.

Jacqueline, who likes math and art, just like her dad, said she wanted her pops to come to school so she could show him off to her friends and teachers.

"I like for him to come around because he's really nice," Jacqueline said, her back leaned into her father's chest.

But what really makes her old man the coolest in the room?

"He gets me anything I want," Jacqueline teased.

"True," her dad conceded.

Hill said he's excited to spend the extra time with his daughter, especially since she recently moved near him from another state.

He wants to see firsthand how Jacqueline is performing in school, he said.

"I'm mostly looking to see what they're learning. I want my girls to learn and do better than what I've done," he said.

Jacqueline leaned her 10-year-old body back even further and gazed up at her father, dragging out her words as if she'd heard his spiel a thousand times.

"College... graduate..." she said.

"Yes, Daddy wants all that," Hill replied.

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