Watch D.O.G.S. Dads coming to classrooms to keep kids safer - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Watch D.O.G.S. Dads coming to classrooms to keep kids safer

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MT. WASHINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- A security scare at a Bullitt County elementary school less than a week before the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shootings is enough to put parents and students on edge.  Organizers at the school say they are lucky to have extra security that dads are providing in schools across the country.

"They protect us and keep us safe," said Ellie Clemens, a student at Old Mill Elementary School.

Students and teachers call them, "Heroes of the hallways."

"They're kind of like the rock star for the day," said Leighann Lowery of the OMES Family Resource Center.

Lowery said she helped implement the "Watch D.O.G.S." or "Dads of Great Students" program at the school three years ago.

"Everyone is smiling and everyone is like, 'Who is that? That's my dad!'" said fifth grader Gracie Clemens.

Clemens said it was special to have her father come in to mentor her and her friends.

"Me growing up it, was always moms in the schools.  That's all you ever heard of, there was nothing for dads," said Watch D.O.G.S. dad Jonathan Brown.

Watch D.O.G.S. is a national program that was started by a concerned father after a middle school shooting in Arkansas in 1998.

"Many of our kids don't have dads at home or positive dad role models," said Principal Leslie McIntosh.

The principal of the school said having positive males in the school, aside from the three male teachers, is crucial.

"More male presence in the school is better for the children. It's just to ease their mind.  It makes them feel more secure.  It makes them feel safe," said Watch D.O.G.S. dad, Ben Fulton.

Fulton and other fathers said they believed the safety of their children was of the utmost importance. They said it was even more important to make sure the children felt secure as well.

"Our kids look to the school for a safe place," McIntosh said. "These dads are somebody they already know, so it's a natural fit, somebody they can trust."

Lowery said the dads, uncles, grandfathers and family friends had to undergo a background check before they could participate. Old Mill Elementary parents were concerned after a shooting threat just this week. 18-year-old Nicholas Bain was arrested for terroristic threatening after police say he made threats to harm children at the school by means of a firearm.  Administrators said they were glad to have extra eyes and ears around to protect the school from such threats. Lowery said the fathers help out in a variety of ways.

"They are doing things like reading to kids, having children read to them, flash cards, math facts," said Lowery.

Lowery said the fathers also patrolled the hallways and helped students on the buses.  One of the trademarks is the "high five" the Watch D.O.G.S. give to students.

"Anything they're having problems with, if you can take 10 minutes out, it changes their day and makes them feel more positive about themselves," said Brown.

For the little ones who can often become afraid in a big place, they say they are glad to have the program.

"It makes me happy that they're doing it," said Ellie Clemens.

Clemens' sister said she believed it made it easier to focus on the important things at school.

"I feel protected when my dad is here...and the other watch dogs, they make me feel safe," Gracie Clemens said.

The protectors said it was "indescribable."

For more information on the program, visit www.fathers.com/watchdogs

Copyright 2013 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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