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Posted on Nov 9, 2015

Monument invites dads to play key role in their children’s school

Monument Elementary School wants to see more dads in the classroom – and on the playground, at the school buses and in the lunch room.
A larger presence of positive male role models impacts schools in a variety of ways, said Debra Knox, assistant principal at Monument.
From emphasizing to students that education is important to enhancing school security, when more men get involved in their children’s educations, everyone benefits, Knox said.
Monument School is inviting fathers, as well as grandfathers, uncles and men who play an active role in students’ lives, to join a new group at the school called Watch D.O.G.S. The school will host a meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 12 for men interested in volunteering at the school.
Monument dads Jorge Trujillo, Daniel Webb and Martin Torres are hoping to get other men excited about the new group. They will be at the Nov. 12 meeting to answer questions about the program.
When asked if he would help start up the program at Monument, Torres didn’t hesitate to jump on board.
“I had no second thoughts,” said Torres, who has three young children. “I wanted in.”
Watch D.O.G.S., which stands for Watch Dads of Great Students, is a national program that is in more than 4,700 schools in 46 states, according to the organization’s website. It is a program of the National Center for Fathering.
The goal of the program, which is aimed at grades kindergarten through high school, is two-fold. It provides positive male role models for students and shows students that education is important. Volunteers also provide an extra set of eyes and ears in the school setting, enhancing school security and reducing bullying, according to the organization’s website.
Knox initiated the program at Monument after seeing what it could do in schools in the Moses Lake school district.
Over the years, Knox also has seen that many students don’t have a positive male role model in their lives. Having that male role model makes a big difference in a child’s life, she said.
In the QSD, educators often times see many mothers volunteering in the schools; however, that doesn’t mean fathers don’t want to get involved, Knox said. Come conference time, many dads are in the classroom meeting with teachers, she said.
“Our dads do want to be involved,” Knox said. “And our kids need this.”
An active volunteer, Trujillo was seeing many mothers but few fathers when he traveled on field trips with his children’s classes. Watch D.O.G.S. gives men an opportunity to spend more time with their children, he said.
“As dads, we could be (more) involved,” Trujillo said. “We should be involved.”
When he was young, his father spent many hours working, Torres said. Now, as a father, he wants to be more available to his children, he said. That time he spends with his kids is priceless, he added.
“It’s a joy to be able to spend time with your kids, not just at home but at school,” he said.
At the school’s open house, more than two dozen men signed up as interested in the group. Watch D.O.G.S. can volunteer as many hours as they can, even if it’s one day a month greeting students in the morning, Trujillo said. Dads who don’t speak fluent English shouldn’t be afraid to volunteer, he added.
And it’s not just the kids who will get something out of the program. By being more involved in the schools, he knows who his children’s friends are and who their teachers are, Trujillo said.
Just being around the students is also energizing, said Trujillo, who stopped in last week at the school to take a couple laps around the playground with students participating in a fun run.
“This is fun. I love being out there. That’s why I volunteer. That’s why I go to the school,” he said. “And it keeps me young – it keeps me active.”


— By Jill FitzSimmons,