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School News Network: Watch D.O.G.S.


A new series from inside Kent ISD public schools highlights the power of parents who give their time to help students and teachers in area classrooms. One effort driven by dads started small and is gaining momentum fast. Joy Walczak has the story.

When Todd Yemc was laid off four years ago, he went to work as a volunteer in his daughter's kindergarten classroom. That’s where he learned about the “watch dogs” – which stands for Dads of Great Students. It’s a national outreach program and his daughter’s principal encouraged him to organize a chapter at her school at Ridgeview Elementary in Sparta. By the end of the year, he had "about eight guys interested." One guy liked it so much he started a group of his own at Appleview, another Sparta Area school. Both dads spent time with a Watch D.O.G.S. group in Rockford District learning how to recruit and schedule dads and other father-figures to help out in classrooms.

No special skills are needed. When a volunteer brings a basketball to the playground, dozens of kids surround him in seconds. It’s about being a positive male role model for kids who may not have one. Now, more than 120 men are now Watch Dog volunteers. And these dads, uncles, grandpas and brothers are willing to help others get more chapters going, too. They started a Sparta Elementary Watchdog Facebook page to help dads and schools connect.

Contributed by Janice Holst of School News Network for WGVU News