WATCH D.O.G.S. welcomes dads at Piedmont school

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KERNERSVILLE, N.C. -- By 11 a.m., Jason Johnson had been in four different classrooms to help with reading and small projects.

“I’m honored to do this, to be here for my daughter and the rest of the school,” Johnson said.

Johnson has volunteered to participate in the WATCH D.O.G.S. program at Union Cross Elementary in Kernersville.

WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) is a national program focused on getting father figures (fathers, grandfathers, uncles, brothers, etc.) involved at schools.

Union Cross Elementary brought the program to the school about two months ago.

“We started Oct. 10, and we’ve had at least one dad here almost every day, sometimes two,” said Nela Hawley, curriculum coordinator.

Male volunteers stay for the school day, from 7:40 a.m. to 2:40 p.m., helping in classrooms and with other tasks such as monitoring the halls, pick-up and drop-off duties, and being present at lunch and recess.

A volunteer will also spend time in his child’s classroom.

Johnson’s second-grade daughter, Rachel, told him about the program and enjoys having him at school.

“We sometimes walk around the school and we’re going to go to lunch together and we’re going to have recess,” she said.

Once the program was launched the school had a response from 250 adult males willing to participate.

“We’ve very fortunate that with such a diverse school, that we are able to have African-American men, Hispanic [men], and Caucasian [men] to come in and help share their knowledge and just build a positive relationship with our students,” Assistant Principal David Bennett said.

“It was good to see that many dads just step up to the plate and say, ‘Hey, it’s time to give back to our kids, give back to the community, and be that positive role model that some kids may not have,’” Johnson said.