A program designed to encourage fathers to take a larger role in the education of their children is taking off in Texas and NBC 5 is proud to be a big part of it.
Two fathers in Springdale, Ark., concerned about the safety of their children, started Watch D.O.G.S. in 1998 after a middle school student was shot while in class in nearby Jonesboro. The program is designed to get dads more involved in their kids schooling and provide an extra set of eyes and ears on campus.
NBC 5 anchor Marc Fein is the “Top D.O.G.” at Folsom Elementary School in Prosper, where his children Nicholas and Haley are in the first and third grades, respectively.
Fein is working with NBC 5 to spread the word about all the great work the Watch D.O.G.S are doing in North Texas and nationwide. Fein recently spent the day with his children at school while, at the same time, an NBC 5 promotions crew was on hand to film part of the day.
Haley and Nick loved having their dad there, but Fein said not nearly as much as he enjoyed the opportunity to spend the day with them.
"I’m so sold on this program,” Fein said, “there are so many statistics that show that dads can make a huge difference in their kids’ lives just by being there. They’re more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to stay out of jail and off drugs and all we have to do is show up.”
Fein went on to explain that most school campuses just don’t have a lot of men around.
“Folsom has only two full time male faculty members,” Fein said.
And while there is no diminishing the role of women and moms, it’s also important to have that male role-model present.
Studies do show that a child who has a father figure actively involved in his or her life is twice as likely to graduate high school as a child who does not.
But, all you really have to do to find that out is to ask the children. One child, Jolie, told Fein, "I like this school so much better than my last one. At my last school we didn’t have Watch D.O.G.S."
Fathers involved in the program see the benefits first-hand.
"There is nothing more rewarding than the joy and excitement I see on my son's face when I'm at his school, but to see how excited the rest of the students are just takes it to another level," said Aaron Nekuza another Watch D.O.G.S. dad.
Teacher Rachel Bainbridge appreciates the help.
"Having a Watch D.O.G. in my classroom allows me to provide opportunities for small group instruction to students that need extra practice in a certain area, or for students who are ready for an extension activity," said Bainbridge. "Students are always happy to work with our Watch D.O.G.S., and you can certainly see a sense of pride in students whose father’s are the Watch DOG of the day."
The program has grown to 42 states that serve more than 2,200 schools, including 500 in Texas and more than 150 now in North Texas. Watch D.O.G.S has tripled in size in the last three years and the program expects more than 220,000 fathers to get involved this school year.
To find out more about the Watch D.O.G.S. program, just head to www.fathers.com/watchdogs.
NBC 5's Mark Fein and Elvira Sakmari contributed to this report.