"Who let the D.O.G.S. out?"
Woodland Heights Elementary School is the pilot program of WATCH D.O.G.S., which translates to Dads of Great Students. The program was created by the National Center for Fathering, organizing fathers and other positive male role models to enhance school security. According to www.fathers.com, the WATCH D.O.G.S. program is active at more than 1,150 schools across America, and when Brownwood Police Department School Resource Officer Fred Bastardo heard of its positive impact, he began the process of implementation.
“The program brings in positive male authority figures,” Bastardo said. “They help with whatever needs to be done: speaking with students, unloading and loading buses or cars, monitoring school entrances and lunchrooms.”
The program calls for fathers or father figures, such as uncles or grandfathers, of Woodland Heights students to volunteer a minimum of one eight-hour day; there will be a training session and t-shirts provided as a uniform, and the most important qualities for the job are the ability to be a positive influence and have a willingness to help the staff and students. All volunteers must pass a background check in order to participate.
If the program is successful at Woodland Heights, Bastardo hopes to further implement into other schools in the Brownwood School District. WATCH D.O.G.S. provides for fathers to continue helping to maintain a safe environment as their students progress through the school system. “Once we get it up and running, I know it will be a great program,” Bastardo said.