Bennett WATCH D.O.G.S. program draws plenty of volunteers
Posted on 10/25/2019
Dads at table with children for WATCH D.0.G.S information session.Bennett Elementary School recently launched their second annual Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) volunteer program with a question and answer session for dads and their children to attend. Fathers were able to gather program literature, signup sheets, a program t-shirt order form, and could even pencil in a volunteer date on a poster-size calendar.

Bennett Principal Michelle Pohzehl summarized the program and the great impact it has had on the children, school and, community. She emphasized that fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and other father-figures would get an inside look at their child’s day and learn about the challenges and decisions today’s youth are facing. Pohzehl added the fact that they would be seen as superstar visitors by students of every grade.

Nick Long and son Josh at Bennett ESEvent coordinator and school Instructional Technology Coach, Courtney Strauss addressed the group, answering questions before unveiling a new program perk. Starting this year, participating fathers will now have designated VIP parking marked by a special Watch D.O.G.S. sign. When Strauss opened the floor for comments, a father who participated in last year’s program gave his testimonial. Nick Long told the group, “After volunteering in the program, kids would come up to me at my son Josh’s baseball games, saying I go to Bennett and I saw you. You were the Watchdog! They now recognize me even outside of the school setting. It’s a really cool experience when they say hi to you at kiss-n-ride, in the hallway, the cafeteria or where ever they see you.”

Once signed in at the front desk, and with schedule in hand, a typical day for a volunteer father can involve assisting with morning kiss-n-ride, a live morning news introduction, and cafeteria duty. From recess and P.E., to Kindergarten art class (a volunteer favorite), the father is integrated into the daily flow of school activities to help where needed. And in doing so, receiving plenty of smiles, high-fives and appreciation from Bennett students and staff.

Bennett Instructional Technology Coach, Courtney Strauss holds the WATCH D.O.G.S. parking sign for Dads to see.Originally started 21 years ago in Springdale, Arkansas, the initiative has grown into a nationally recognized program. More than 6,450 schools participate in the initiative. Bennett is one of nearly 20 elementary schools in Prince William County Public Schools to host such a program. Designed to bring fathers and father-figures into the classroom, Dads of Great Students is both a family and community engagement program that provides students positive male role models who are there to help emphasize the importance of education.