Dads on patrol provide positive example in classrooms
Sun Prairie schools first in state to participate in national program
SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. — Usually when we think about the parent heading to a PTO meeting, our minds go to moms, but a program in Sun Prarie schools is trying to change that.
They’re called WatchDOGS, DOGS standing for “Dads Of Great Students.”
Every morning at Horizon Elementary School, Principal Rainey Briggs introduces the men who came in for the day to look after the halls and participate in classrooms to the entire student body.
Briggs said the program has grown to be so popular that they had to add days when dads come in.
“It gives us another set of eyes in the building. It gives us another person in the classroom who really wants to be that positive role model for kids from a male’s perspective,” Briggs said.
Jon Lee started participating as a WatchDOGS four years ago. He noticed wives were typically the ones in the schools, and felt it was important to get involved.
“By no means are we doing what the teachers do,” Lee said. “But being involved and interacting in that way is different and very rewarding.”
Each WatchDOG gets a schedule, laying out what classrooms to help out in throughout the day. Lee said his favorite part of being a WatchDOG is being with his sons and seeing them in their classrooms. He also enjoys feeling a bit like a rock star for the day.
“They want to give you five or they want to get your attention or show you something or tell you about something that happened to them. It’s a good experience to do that,” Lee said.
Korey Stark signed up for the first time this year after his daughter, Bailey, came home many nights talking about the WatchDOGS at school.
“I kind of thought it was going to be a grown-up safety patrol for adults. But it’s kind of not that,” Stark said. “It’s in the classroom, finding out what’s happening with the kids, and kind of just participating in the class day instead of just enforcing the rules.”
The WatchDOGS are expected to report or even correct inappropriate behavior, but just their presence encourages friendly interactions and discourages bullies.
“Kids look at them like Superman, you know, and someone who is willing to be there to help them be successful. It means a lot,” Briggs said.
Westside Elementary was the first school to adopt the program in the Sun Prairie district, and Sun Prairie was the first district in the state to bring in WatchDOGS.