Last school year, I became aware of a program called WatchDOGS from a parent who emailed me the link www.fathers.com/watchdogs. As this school year approached and I started to think harder about the needs of our students as well as the resources available to us in meeting those needs. Also, as a team of staff members we considered the needs of our students before the start of this school year, looking at data trends from last year. In September, the school held our first “Donuts with Dads” event. I was blown away by the numbers of men who showed up to visit with their child that morning. All of this led us to order the start-up kit for the WatchDOGS program and begin the process of inviting dads (and other father figures such as fathers, grandfathers, uncles, etc.) to volunteer a day as a Watch DOG at McNair. As I type this, our first Watch DOG volunteer came to school yesterday. I’m pleased to say that the feedback and excitement I’m hearing from students and staff is tremendous!
Here is a little more on goals and potential impact of the WatchDOGS program-
Two Main Goals
1) To provide positive male role models for the students, demonstrating by their presence that education is important.
2) To provide extra sets of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying.
Who are the winners in this program?
The first winner is the student! Study after study shows the negative effects that fall upon children when a ‘dad’ checks out, whether physically or emotionally. But students also show the positive effects that children receive when ‘dad’ is present in the home and positively engaged in the lives of his children. Ironically, when most men who are going to be Watch DOGS attended school it was a negative thing when dads showed up! It usually was the result of a behavior problem at school. But today across America, when dads are showing up to be WatchDOGS it is a positive thing!
The second winner is the school, and ultimately the community! In many cases, when a WatchDOG shows up for his day of volunteering, it will be the first time in a long time that he has been at school, so he may have no concept what it is like to be an educator in the 21st century. When dads show up and become actively involved, we quickly move from possibly being a cynic of public education to a strong advocate, and a stronger bridge is built between the home and the school.
The third winner is the ‘dad’! Regardless of his educational or athletic background, when he is in the student’s school, he will become Michael Jordan on the playground, Albert Einstein in the classroom and Superman in the hallways. In essences, he becomes the “Big Man on Campus”. This motivates dads to continue to be involved both at school and at home because it feels great to know how to make a difference and have the opportunity to do just that!
So dads, do you think you’re ready to volunteer for a day at McNair as a WatchDOG? Here is what to do next:
1. Fill out a school volunteer packet (available in the school office on request) including background check forms. This is necessary for any volunteer in the school district. Link to Volunteer Packet
2. Fill out a WatchDOG Registration Form (available in the school office on request or at This Link)
3. Andrew Harris, School Counselor, will contact you once the volunteer packet process is complete to schedule you for a day most convenient for you.
Mr. Harris' Blog
Welcome... I hope this blog can be useful, particularly to parents and the community, as another way to stay connected to what's going on around McNair. Find out more about McNair school counseling by clicking around the blog or reading my program brochure. Students can use my "Mr. Harris Please Help" form to let me know they need to chat. Please browse around and contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org/314-953-4708) if you just cannot find what you're looking for! It's my pleasure to serve McNair and the community.
Child just needs more help?
Here are a couple options for therapy at no charge:
- Family Solutions for Kids offers a great variety of services to meet the needs of children and their families including therapy and psychiatric services (brochure).
- Community Psychological Service (at UMSL) offers therapy for children & families for a variety of concerns. Psychological evaluation is also offered.