Watch D.O.G.S. clean up the yard

Seeing our families take pride and invest themselves in the Jenison student community is a pretty regular occurrence but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a thing of beauty. The passion so many parents have to bring new ideas to life and support their students is always encouraging.

Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) is a nationwide school volunteer program that was designed to encourage dads and other male role models (stepfathers, godfathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, and neighbors) to get more involved in their children’s education; starting with spending a day volunteering at school.13316621a4b739bc6f77be779208087253774ae8

During a normal day on ‘watch’, the men may be reading and working on flash cards, playing at recess or eating lunch with students, patrolling the school entrances and hallways, assisting with traffic flow and any other assigned activities where they actively engage with not only their own students, but other students as well. There are many touch points throughout the day where these men add value to young lives, help them feel known and model taking pride in themselves and their school. It is a sacrifice of time for any volunteer to spend a whole day in the school but the kids love their presence and look forward to their involvement when the DOGS are on campus.

The Watch D.O.G.S. program has been up and running in JPS for some years now but Daniel Bush, coordinator for the program at Bauerwood wanted to pull people together to give something more back to the kids. He recently arranged the first fall clean up day for Bauerwood Elementary on Saturday, November 10.

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In preparation for the big day, volunteers worked behind the scenes to get the community involved. They took down the outdoor basketball backboards: cleaned, primed, sanded and painted them. Students then had a chance to decorate them with a paw print and sign their name. The rest of the work on clean up day was dedicated to removing unsightly brush and tidying the mulch. However, it wasn’t all grueling work, the DOGS and their pup helpers had plenty of fun with donuts, lunch and snowball fights!

Thank you to the many minds, hearts and hands, in the school and community that made these projects happen – giving our kids something to be very proud of! They accomplished a lot on that day and I love that our schools are setting the bar for other communities in the area. Check out the coverage from Fox 17 they received!

Playground Project Supervisors from Bauerwood: Chad McKinney, Brett DeBoer, Skyler Hall, Eric Kass, Max Gamble, Greg Smith, and Daniel Bush

Special Thanks to our Sponsors:

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“Watchdogs always strive to bring our students up… even if it is a simple act of showing interest in their recreation at school. The Watch D.O.G.S. may have championed this clean up effort but we had a lot of MVP’s that were there to support us… it is great when everyone jumps in and helps!” Daniel Bush, Bauerwood dad and TopDog. 

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Fox 17 was on site to capture a great story about the Bauerwood Family.

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Watch D.O.G.S know how to work hard and play hard!

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Thanks to Pater Bobcat Services for some help with the heavy lifting!

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Spreading 15 yards of donated mulch from Integrity Tree Service.

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Kid Cat Approved! Thanks WatchDog dads!

Pinewood Watch D.O.G.S

Watch D.O.G. Henry Diaz lends a hand at Pinewood Elementary School

When Henry Diaz first heard about Watch D.O.G.s it was in a gymnasium filled with dads wanting to make a difference. Having moved to Michigan recently from another state with poor public schools and lackluster parental involvement, he was awed by the sight of a hundred fathers eagerly signing up to give away their time for free.

Watch D.O.G.S. was officially unveiled this past October by a group of parents who wanted to impact the lives of students by increasing the number of male role models at school. They kept it simple: come for pizza, learn about the program, sign up to help.  In one night nearly two dozen dads declared themselves Watch D.O.G.S., and in the coming weeks more names came rolling in. To date over 48 fathers have scrawled their name on the calendar declaring, “I’ll be there.”

Watch D.O.G.S. commit to an entire day monitoring the halls, offering one-on-one assistance to students, eating lunch with a table of new faces, playing soccer at recess, and stepping in to help whenever extra hands are needed. Principal Bergeon makes a point to schedule the dads in their own children’s classrooms as well as giving them opportunities to impact lives in other areas.

Mr. Diaz shared that it was so interesting to see the different learning styles in kids, noting that the “hands-on equations” being tackled in one of the classrooms made math so much easier. “I wish I would have learned this way!” he confessed.

Henry uses math manipulatives with a Pinewood student

Henry was impressed with the program from the start, but being in the school and walking the halls solidified his commitment. He walked with confidence and kindness, high-fiving his daughters’ friends and calling them by name. Every young face that met his broke into a smile and excitedly said, “Hi Mr. Diaz!”

“In this particular school–the kids are very well behaved. There are lots of visual clues and verbal reminders which are so helpful. Students seem to police themselves. It’s been great. I’ll definitely be back!”

Watch D.O.G.S. know that giving up a day at work doesn’t come without a price. They know that playing kickball at recess might result in dusty shoes; lunch in the cafeteria might mean giving up Starbucks or hot soup at Panera.

But they also recognize that it means being a friend; talking to a child who’s waiting to be noticed. It means showing love when you don’t have to; extending kindness to a room full of little strangers. It means being a hero to your own kids just because you’re there.

Is there any better way to make a difference?

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To learn more about this national program, visit www.fathers.com. Ask your parent club how you can start one at your school, or if you’re a Pinewood Elementary dad, contact the office to sign up.