Kyle Knop has two daughters in school and a busy work schedule, neither of which gives him as much time with his daughters as he would like. But thanks to a program designed for dads at Corinth Classical Academy where his daughters attend fifth and second grade, he has found a way to stay aware of what is going on in his daughters’ lives.
WATCH D.O.G.S (Dads Of Great Students) is a school-based father involvement program from the National Center for Fathering that supports education and encourages safety. Several ResponsiveEd schools started WATCH D.O.G.S. programs including The Woodlands Classical Academy and Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville.
Several times a semester, Mr. Knop spends a day on campus helping out in whatever way is needed. Eating lunch with the kids, helping a teacher in the classroom, lifting heavy things, or patrolling hallways, he and other dads get to know their children’s teachers and friends while serving as a positive male role models for all the students.
“I try to make time to spend with them, see what they are doing in school, and spend some quality time. It is a neat experience for dads to go back to grade school to really know what your kids are learning and how to help them,” said Mr. Knop.
Through the program, Mr. Knop and other dads have the opportunity to better understand what their child experiences at school.
“I know my kids in our environment, but normally wouldn’t know how they interact at school. Watching them at school gives you things to talk about and makes you aware of things you may need to address. It makes you proud if you see them doing other things you’ve taught them like sharing,” he said.
The campus directors greatly appreciate involved dads. Amie Giacumakis, the campus director at Corinth Classical Academy, said the presence of dads on campus improves the campus environment.
“It is amazing to see the students light up when they see a dad in the hallway giving them a high five or when they help in their classroom. We are glad to have so many dads taking a day off from work to invest in their child’s school,” said Ms. Giacumakis.
WATCH D.O.G.S. at The Woodlands Classical Academy
For Todd Weller, who has a third and fifth grader at The Woodlands Classical Academy near Houston, the WATCH D.O.G.S. program helps him build positive relationships with his children’s teachers.
“Just yesterday as I was picking up my kids from school, my son’s teacher, who knew me because I volunteered, pulled me aside and told me my son had gotten 100% on his math test. When my son came out of school, I was able to congratulate and encourage him. If I wasn’t involved and known on campus, I would have missed that opportunity to be involved in everyday happenings at school,” said Mr. Weller.
For Corey Dowell, another dad at The Woodlands Classical Academy, volunteering is about the little things in his daughter’s life and supporting her in her “job” of going to school.
“My message when you are dealing with children is that the littlest things matter. Just taking one day or a quarter of a day can have a positive impact on your child. Your child will remember you being there. It validates your child in their importance,” he said.
WATCH D.O.G.S. at Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville
When Pedro Gonzalez, a father of a fourth grader at Founders Classical Academy of Lewisville, listened to a presentation about the positive impact of children having both a male and female role model at the launch of the WATCH D.O.G.S. program, he decided to get involved. Now the program is in its third year, and he serves as the director of the program. His goal is to introduce dads to the school environment and coordinate ways for them contribute in the classroom.
“We’ve had a dad come in and help with an algebra class because he is an engineer and uses algebra in his job. The students responded very well to his visit. My role is about connecting people. You have to find out what the dads are excited about and what they have to share and then talk to the teachers about what they need,” sad Mr. Gonzalez.
K.O.R.T. at Quest School of West Little Rock
ResponsiveEd’s Quest School of West Little Rock molded its own program for dads tailored more specifically towards the school’s needs. They named to program The Knights of The Round Table (K.O.R.T) based off of their mascot the Knight.
Jeff Adams, one of the dads who helped start the program, said they had thought about starting a WATCH D.O.G.S. program. However, as a new school, the initial costs to start the program led them to try their own initiative first. Realizing middle schools have different needs than elementary schools, K.O.R.T.’s focus shifted more towards helping with tasks around the school.
Ryan Farris, the father of two girls at the school, appreciates the opportunity to have a positive impact on his children’s school by working behind the scenes. His favorite event is the Fall Cauldron event.
“It is a PTO fundraiser and chili cook-off event at the beginning of the school year. The K.O.R.T. group provides fire pits, firewood, and s’more making accessories for dessert. We make sure the fires are tended and all the kids can safely enjoy making and eating s’mores. It is a magical night that makes me proud to be a part of this school and this group,” he said.