At Arp Elementary School, only two men are full-time teachers or aides out of 57 faculty members. Because of this, some students are lacking male role models.
Monica Johnson, a counselor at Arp Elementary, is leading the charge to solve the issue by introducing a national mentoring and community engagement program, WATCH D.O.G.S (Dads of Great Students).
Through WATCH D.O.G.S., father and father figures volunteer in their local schools to provide the students with a positive influence.
The program has been around since 1998 in over 6,800 schools, and on Sept. 21 it will kick off with a pizza party for Arp students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.
Johnson said the program brings male role models, including older brothers, uncles, dads and grandfathers, to campus. The volunteer gets a schedule and starts off in the morning in their child’s class.
“They pick one day a year that works with their schedule,” Johnson said. “They’re just here to provide positive role models for the students and letting the kids know how important their presence is to their education.”
Some of the activities for the volunteering father figure would be helping as a crossing guard, car/bus rider facilitator, hallway monitor, library assistant, lunchroom helper, classroom and homework tutor, or playground/gymnasium coach.
The volunteer will get to spend at least two full class periods in their child or children’s classroom.
Johnson said the program participant will also get to work in small student groups, read with the kids, help with homework and referee games at recess.
Arp Elementary officials intended to start the program last year, but due to COVID-19 concerns, visitors could not go inside the campus, Johnson said.
Arp Elementary Principal Stephanie Schminkey said she’s excited about the program because many students don’t see positive male role models.
“Our kids in general just love having visitors on campus,” Schminkey said. “I want them to see the home and school connection and that we’re all working on the same purpose. Our staff is very excited because they know the power of a good mentor program.”
Schminkey recalled the high school coaches coming to the elementary campus to mentor students and that outreach saw great success. She hopes WATCH D.O.G.S will reach more kids and add community involvement in the school.
“We feel like with COVID going on this could actually be a positive,” Schminkey said. “We need a positive here at school.”
Johnson hopes this program will lead to more community involvement and allow dads to be an active part of their kids’ education.
“We’re so grateful for moms, and this is an opportunity for dads to get to step up,” Johnson said.
At the pizza party from 6 to 7 p.m., dads and other father figures will get to learn more about the WATCH D.O.G.S. program and participate in a few activities.