WatchDOGS, or Dads of Great Students, is the father involvement initiative of the National Center for Fathering that organizes fathers and father figures to provide positive male role models in schools. It’s a national program in 41 states.
It’s not just for dads; grandfathers, step-fathers, uncles, and other adults who volunteer to serve at least one day a year can be part of this. Briarcrest Elementary printipal Mr. Nessan saw me perform some ten years ago when he was teaching at Shoreline Elementary nearby. He remembered my Reading Magic show all this time, and when he was looking for fun entertainment for his WatchDOGS kickoff thought of me.
Mr. Nessan writes, “I first heard about the program from a teacher friend in Edmonds, after they had successfully implemented it at their school. Briarcrest has always had awesome support from the men in our community at meetings, conferences, and school and PTA events, so the program seems like a perfect fit. When you run out of doughnuts at the Dads and Doughnuts event, you know you’re in a great situation.
The program itself is simple: fathers and father figures are asked to take one day (or half day) during the school year, and spend it at Briarcrest. They check in at the office in the morning, and receive their WatchDOGS badge (so students and staff can easily recognize them), receive a brief orientation and schedule, and then we put them to work. Duties include welcoming students as they arrive, sitting with/mentoring students in class, eating with their child at lunch, and connecting with students at recess.
Past participants talk about the rewards they get from spending a day being a positive role model for children. Students talk about the pride they feel having their dad at school, or the connection they made to someone else’s dad.
I was surprised when I walked up to the school early and two kids recognized me. Some had seen my videos online!
How successful was the evening? All of the pizza was gone! So, people either love magic or pizza… or both?!?