Watch D.O.G.S. launches in Moffat County schools
Program seeks to involve father figures in students’ lives
For Craig Press
Sandrock Elementary School played host to the kickoff event for the Moffat County Watch D.O.G.S. program Nov. 9 in the school cafeteria with food as well as opportunities for fathers and their children to bond.
The event also presented the background of Watch D.O.G.S. while laying out next steps for participants and the community.
Bob Giusto, an educator from Lakewood, Colorado who has been involved in education for the last 35 years, served as the keynote speaker to reinforce the ideas behind the program and to share his personal experiences regarding its importance.
The Moffat County Watch D.O.G.S. is based on a concept that originated in 1998 in the southeastern part of the U.S. The goal behind the program is to promote the involvement of father figures in schools through volunteerism and mentorship. Laura Woodworth, who is coordinating the program, stated that Sandrock Elementary was a natural choice to launch the program because Sandrock has few male staff members.
The event, according to Woodworth, went “better than expected.”
“The room was full,” Woodworth said. “My favorite part of the night was when the men lined up to pick a day on the wall calendar in front of all the children. I think that was a powerful visual for the kids to watch.”
The calendar displayed days of the school year when male guardians, parents and role models could enter the school and volunteer in a variety of roles, including helping out in the cafeteria and greeting students at the door. They can also move throughout the building to ensure the safety of students as well as the security of the building.
Woodworth believes that this level of positive male involvement will send the message that “men are wanted and very much needed in education to help raise well-rounded students.” Additionally, there is the hope that there is a trickle-down impact on future generations of parents and students.
“It will provide great balance in our schools to have father futures involved rather than just mother figures,” Woodworth said. “I also hope that one of the benefits is that all the little boys will think it is the norm to be engaged in schools when they grow up, because men are demonstrating the way to volunteer now.”
Carelli’s and Domino’s provided food while several other local businesses donated beverages, raffle awards and incentives for attendees to sign-up to serve in various capacities at the school district for the remainder of the school year.
Guisto spoke about the power of the Watch D.O.G.S. program while also addressing the power of positive male role models in the lives of students and in schools. Guisto taught in both Colorado and New York City, the latter of which is where he first felt the power of being a positive male role model in the lives of students, particularly those who were lacking a male parent or guardian in the household.
He also spoke about the role that parents can play in ensuring the safety and security of students and educators in schools.
“We all know that these are trying times as far as school safety and security,” Guisto said as he explained that many breaches of school safety perimeters occur because an exterior door is propped open or not locked.
The Watch D.O.G.S. program is designed to partially provide additional sets of eyes and ears regarding school security through the monitoring of the building itself as well as the perimeter.
“They are not asking for you to play cop,” Guisto said. “They are not asking you to play vigilante. Going on field trips with kids allows you to have an extra set of eyes to make sure that someone doesn’t wander off. Teachers really appreciate that stuff. Little things like that go a long way.”
Guisto then transitioned into presenting information and resources to the group regarding building valued relationships with children.
The next steps for the program are clear, Woodworth said. A volunteer base must be established and the schedule of involvement of male role models needs to be “fine-tuned” to ensure a meaningful and quality experience for all involved. The employers of the male volunteers will also be contacted to see if they are willing to offer paid time off for employees who volunteer with the Watch D.O.G.S. program.
She would also like to see expansion of the program into the other schools in the Moffat County School District.
“It is very important that parents communicate to their school administration that they want this program and that the parents are willing to do the work to get it off the ground,” Woodworth said. “This is the perfect opportunity to simply show kids how to be a good, strong male role model. Many children do not have that in their lives and need a role model to watch. By inviting the men into the schools, all children benefit.”
Community sponsors of Watch D.O.G.S. include Hi-Performance Car Wash, Chapman’s Automotive, West Twin Cinema, Country Living Realty-Realtor Andrea Camp, Yampa Valley Golf Club, Loadout Liquors, Walmart, Good Vibes River Gear, Northwest Pawn, Domino’s, Harbor Freight, Rock Creek Designs, Bargain Barn, Yampa Valley Bank, Craig Powersports, Carelli’s Pizzeria, City of Craig, LW Professional Solutions LLC, and Sandrock PAC.
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