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Oakridge Public Schools has launched a new program in its upper elementary building (grades 4-6) called WATCH

WATCH D.O.G.S. is a national program that promotes positive male role models for students by having them volunteer their time in the building and communicate that education is important! The presence of each WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteer also helps by providing an extra set of eyes and ears to enhance school safety and reduce bullying! WATCH D.O.G.S. are fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and other father-figures who volunteer for at least one day each school year at an official WATCH D.O.G.S. school. Some of the activities that WATCH D.O.G.S. may engage in during their volunteer day may include:

  • reading and working on flashcards with students
  • working one-on-one with students on academic skills
  • playing with students at recess
  • eating lunch with students
  • helping to monitor school entrances and hallways
  • being a good role model
  • assisting teachers in the classroom
  • any other activity where they actively engage with not only their own child but with other students as well

Oakridge officially launched the new program to the community with an official WATCH D.O.G.S. informational event in March 2018. Approximately 50 dads and their students attended the event to learn more about the program. To date, the upper elementary has been able to secure 25 WATCH D.O.G.S. into the program. Every WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteer must apply and have a background check before volunteering at the school and with students. Every WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteer will wear an official shirt while on duty, so students and staff know that they are apart of the program. Students can feel comfortable approaching any WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteer. Volunteers also receive an agenda upon arrival, so their time can be well-spent throughout the entire building.

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“This program is not about fathers coming into the school to keep an eye on their child, specifically,” says Cathy Cantu, Oakridge Upper Elementary Principal. “While volunteers will have time in their child’s classroom, we want all of our students to get to know our WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteers. The purpose of the program is to provide another trusted adult in the building for students that may not have that resource elsewhere.”

“Part of the Mission of Oakridge Public Schools is to provide a safe and healthy learning environment, and we take that mission very seriously,” says Tom Livezey, Oakridge Superintendent. “We are thrilled to see our community take such an interest in volunteering to be in the school with some of our young students by becoming role models to so many. Oakridge feels that by serving the whole child through our Wellness Network – mind, body, and soul – we are preparing students to become a positive force in our community.”

Cantu adds, “The energy that these WATCH D.O.G.S. bring into our building each week is priceless. Students enjoy their friendship and company, and teachers appreciate their help in the classrooms. It’s tremendous to see students reach out to these community figures, and know they have a trusted adult in their corner.”

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WATCH D.O.G.S. is one of the nation’s largest and most respected school-based, family, and community engagement, organizations in the country. Since the program’s creation in 1998, more than 6,450 schools across the country have launched a WATCH D.O.G.S. program of their own. While Oakridge Public Schools is not the first school to become a WD School in West Michigan, they are the pilot district in Muskegon County. With its initial success, Oakridge will consider expanding the program to additional grade level buildings in the future.

Learn more about the WATCH D.O.G.S. program at their website: dadsofgreatstudents.com. To apply to become a WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteer at Oakridge Public Schools, you may reach out to the Upper Elementary building at (231) 788-7500 or send an email to WATCH D.O.G.S. coordinator Jessica Boulduc-Brown at jbolducbrown@oakridgeschools.org

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