WATCH D.O.G.S. Program a Success at PES

Thursday, April 17, 2014
Piggott Alderman Mike Cook reads to students as a regular volunteer for the WATCH D.O.G.S. program at PES.

In the fall of 2013 a group of concerned men from the Piggott area gathered at Piggott Elementary School. The purpose for meeting was to establish a chapter of the WATCH D.O.G.S. at PES and in the months since the program has had a measured impact.

WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) is an innovative father involvement, educational initiative of the National Center for Fathering. It began in 1998 in a single school in Springdale, Ark. and has since grown into a nationally recognized program that has brought hundreds of thousands of fathers and father figures into our nation's classrooms and hallways. WATCH D.O.G.S. has created millions of "in school" volunteer hours and continues to have a tremendously positive impact on the educational process. Today more than 3,793 schools in 46 states plus the District of Columbia participate in WATCH D.O.G.S.

The local chapter was made possible by an initial donation made by Piggott State Bank, and McDonalds in Piggott is also a financial supporter of the effort.

At the Piggott Elementary campus volunteer WATCH D.O.G.S. are encouraged to be present whenever their respective schedules permit. But, organizers note the volunteers taking part in the WATCH D.O.G.S. do not have to be available all day.

Obviously, there are many places where the assistance of the WATCH D.O.G.S. is needed and much appreciated by the staff. On almost any given day volunteers may assist first grade students with their reading while others may be needed to assist teaches with other projects.

"This winter I helped students make Shrinky Dinks in Julie Banning's art class", said Watch D.O.G.S. volunteer Shawn Parker noted with a smile. "I've also had the opportunity to read with students, mop up milk in the cafeteria, and serve as the doorman and direct traffic at the crosswalk."

Recently standardized testing season was in full swing at Piggott Elementary, compounding what was already a busy schedule for the staff. To help out testing coordinator Barbara Batey, who volunteers daily before school to work the crosswalk at the intersection of Johnson and Main a couple of the WATCH D.O.G.S. stepped forward. So, for the past few weeks motorists may have noticed WATCH D.O.G.S. Shawn Parker and Cody Knight in the role of crossing guard so Batey could utilize the time for test preparation.

Volunteers such as these recognize the need for such programs as WATCH D.O.G.S. at PES, and the benefit of a positive male influence and presence. But, there is still a need for more participation from members of the community as the program develops.

"I'm confident that we're just getting started," Parker added. "WATCH D.O.G.S. have a great opportunity to make a difference and I would encourage more men to apply."

Those wanting more information on the program may call the PES office during regular school hours at 598-2546.

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