Watch Dogs Looking Out At Alta Loma Schools

What child wouldn’t want to be welcomed every at his or her school day by a watch dog?

And what parent wouldn’t rest a bit easier knowing there was a watch dog protecting all the students at their children’s school?

Foothills Reader -Watch Dogs 4-26-15How about a “pack” of watch dogs?

The watch dogs looking out for the students at three schools in the Alta Loma School District aren’t the ferocious canine variety, but rather fathers, grandfathers, uncles and other father figures of students at Carnelian, Deer Canyon and Hermosa elementary schools in Rancho Cucamonga.

They’re volunteers in the national Watch DOGS program – or Dads of Great Students – a one-of-a-kind, school-based father involvement program that works to support education and safety. The program is run by the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children through the active involvement of fathers or father figures.

“I’ve heard from so many of the dads in the program that this is truly a life-altering experience, not just for the kids, but for them,” says Joan Sanders, principal at Carnelian School. “More than one has told me that his own life has been enriched and that he’s improved his fathering skills by getting to know the kids better.”

The volunteer Watch DOGS fathers, grandfathers, uncles and other father figures are helping schools to boost safety and reduce bullying. At schools where more than 90 percent of faculty and staff are female, they’re positive male role models for the students.

“Statistics show that students are more likely to be successful and to stay on track when they have a positive male influence in their lives,” Sanders says. “This gives children and fathers more time to interact, and it also provides me with an extra set of eyes and ears to know what’s happening around the school.”

“It just works,” says Hermosa Elementary Principal Valerie Bires. “It has changed the climate of the campus.”

First adopted in the ALSD by Carnelian Elementary School in October of 2013, the program has since spread to the district’s Hermosa and Deer Canyon schools, thanks to Sanders’ efforts to share the success she has seen at Carnelian. They are among the 4,562 schools in 46 states that participate in the Watch DOGS program, in addition to schools in China, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Barbados that are also participating.

“I wanted to find a way to get more dads on campus,” says Michele Rachielles, principal at Deer Canyon Elementary School, where the program launched this past January.

Bires says research indicates that when a father is on campus four times a year, “it changes and shapes their child’s life. Now the kids are recruiting their dads to be part of this.”

DOGS at Hermosa School are contributing in classrooms. “We’ve identified a number of kids who don’t have fathers, and we’ve put dads in their classrooms. Every day those students get checked on by a dad – not theirs, but someone who will give them positive attention. Seeing the change in those kids is what makes my job fun.”


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