Fathers add sense of security at schools

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by Cleve Bryan

WVEC

Posted on March 4, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Updated Saturday, Nov 2 at 8:28 AM

YORK CO.-- Local schools looking for an extra sense of security may find help from a group of male volunteers called WATCH D.O.G.S.

WATCH D.O.G.S. stands for Dads of Great Students and is a national program that coordinates volunteer participation by fathers, grandfathers, uncles and other men willing to help out in their children’s schools.

Magruder Elementary School in York County was one of the first schools in Hampton Roads to launch the program back in 2006, thanks to the efforts of their PTA.

“We had high volunteer hours, but we did notice the vast majority of our volunteers were moms coming into the building,” said Principal Jane Core Yatzeck.

Magruder now has 87 dads involved, with at least one volunteer in the building almost every day.

“You have fathers and families that understand the developmental needs and levels of children in a way that they haven’t seen before,” said Yatzeck.

WATCH D.O.G.S. help students with individual classroom attention, help out in gym class and eat lunch with the students.

In addition to assisting with academics and acting as positive role models, the volunteers provide an extra set of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying.

“You make sure that everyone here has a name badge on and they have an official school badge and they look like they belong,” said WATCH D.O.G. Matt Brooks.

The group was founded in response to the 1998 school shooting in Jonesboro, Arkansas, but doesn't claim to be a substitute for school security or a deterrent to a tragedy like Newtown, Connecticut.

According to the WATCH D.O.G.S. website, 79 percent of principals surveyed agree that the program has made a significant contribution to school safety.

“I feel like we do have extra sets of eyes and ears in the building whenever the dads are here because they do spend time in the halls and in the lunchroom,” said Yatzeck.

Volunteer Tyrone Robinson feels a little safer knowing he and other dads are in the building. 

“I do feel good that I'm here and my first hand nature would be to protect the kids,” said Robinson.

Click here for more information about WATCH D.O.G.S. and how to bring it to your child’s school.

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