For the past 10 years, Bridlewood Elementary School has welcomed dads of students to participate in a program that has become a beloved part of campuses throughout LISD. The Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program is one of the nation’s largest and most respected family engagement organizations that brings joy to students, educators and local dads.
The Watch D.O.G.S. program was established to provide positive male role models for students. Participants also provide an additional layer of school security, help reduce bullying and provide some peace of mind for teachers and students to focus on learning.
“Each year it gets better and better!” says Meredith Whitehouse, principal of Bridlewood Elementary. “The response has always been positive from the dads that participate. They always seem to gain a new appreciation and insight into what happens at school every day.”
Jonathan Cervenka, a member of Bridlewood Elementary’s Watch D.O.G.S. program for the past six years, agrees. “I found it as a great opportunity to get to know the teachers, staff and other families in our community. It also allowed me to see my children interact inside the school both with their peers and teachers in a way that isn’t possible without being a volunteer on campus.”
Jonathan says Watch D.O.G.S. begin the day by greeting students and divvying out high fives and encouragement. “Then, the staff outlines the daily activities and encourages the Watch D.O.G.S. to visit with not only your child’s class, but also interact with multiple grades at recess and assist with lunch duty,” he says. “Often, there are special assignments requested by the administration and teachers to ensure the school is looking its best. We’re also more watchful eyes on campus, which is a great feeling.”
Ms. Whitehouse says the Watch D.O.G.S. have achieved rockstar status at school. “The Watch D.O.G.S. become instant celebrities on morning announcements, in the hallways and especially on the playground. Teachers have been happy to have the dads as volunteers, especially those who are comfortable being able to mentor small groups of students.”
Historically, moms have been room parents, volunteers and the familiar faces around school, but Watch D.O.G.S. are changing that narrative. “Having male role models on campus is a huge benefit for the students to see,” Ms. Whitehouse says. “Giving dads a unique opportunity to be in the school where they are not singularly attached to their child but are a campus-wide asset really spreads the image that dads are welcome at the campus, as well.
“Dads also lend a unique perspective to things at school with input from different professions and experiences that can have a huge impact on how things are conducted in the future,” she says.
Jonathan says Watch D.O.G.S. participants are equally rewarded by the experience, which he highly recommends. “I absolutely encourage all dads and father figures to participate, as it’s a way to give back to the school and allows for a glimpse into the daily schedule of your child and how hard the teachers, staff and students work every day.”
For more information on the Watch D.O.G.S. program, visit dadsofgreatstudents.com.
“The response has always been positive from the dads that participate. They always seem to gain a new appreciation and insight into what happens at school every day.”
— Meredith Whitehouse