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The City Journals

These D.O.G.S - part of the Falcon Ridge family

Feb 07, 2019 02:26PM ● By Jet Burnham

Mason Hooper shares the positive experiences he has had volunteering at his child’s school. He is the one who suggested the program to Falcon Ridge Elementary School. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Teachers at Falcon Ridge Elementary school notice that when dads volunteer in the classroom, their students are better behaved.

“It’s a dad in the building, and we see mostly moms,” said Jennifer Rasband, who teaches sixth grade. Principal Michelle Peterson said there are a few dads who do volunteer regularly.

“They are awesome, so we are trying to recruit more dads to come,” she said, promising their child will see them as a hero.

Falcon Ridge recently introduced fathers to the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program. It is a way to invite dads and other father figures to be more involved in their child’s school. They were asked to volunteer for an entire day at least once this year. Dads will spend time helping in multiple classrooms as well as assisting with drop-off and pick-up procedures, lending an extra hand during lunch and recess, and performing a variety of security checks throughout the day.

An informational kickoff meeting was held Jan. 9. Cody Rindlisbacher, a Falcon Ridge teacher whose children also attend the school, said the lines to get into the building, fill out a raffle ticket and get pizza were reminiscent of the lines at Disneyland. 

“I’ve never seen this big of a turnout,” he said. “It is awesome to see all of the father figures here come to help support their family and local school — that is amazing.”

Peterson said through the program, fathers will gain an understanding of what their child’s day is like.

Wade Brinton said, like many dads, he works outside of the home all day so his kids don’t see him that much. He sees volunteering at the school as an opportunity to remind his daughter that she is important to him.

“I think it’s important to spend time with my student but also just to see the kind of environment she’s learning in,” he said.

The program was introduced as part of January’s Family Month.

“We’ve been going out of our way this year to try and get more family involvement,” said Rasband. She said teachers appreciate when parents are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to support the school.

Brady Anderson said he used to volunteer in the school more often when he had a flexible job schedule. It is harder now to make the time, but he plans to actively participate in the Watch D.O.G.S. program.

“I really liked being in the classroom,” he said. “I think the more support kids have, the better.”

Peterson said volunteers will also be involved in security measures such as checking that outside doors are locked and walking around the parking lot throughout the day.

“They will provide extra eyes and extra ears for safety and security,” Peterson said.

As a dad and a police officer, Greg Bruerton looks forward to helping keep an eye on things at the school. He also believes good role models are important for children. Through his work with the corrections department, he has seen that kids from single-parent homes may have less supervision and fewer good role models which can lead to poor life choices.

“I think just getting the dads involved is a really good thing,” he said.

Peterson welcomes anyone who wants to be a good role model for her students. Some volunteers are not traditional dads. Some are grandpas or uncles.

Dustin Nye works full time and does not live with his daughter. He said he is always looking for ways to be more involved in her life and is excited for the opportunity the Watch D.O.G.S. program provides.

“Even though I’m not the full-time dad, I still want to be a part of her scholastics,” said Nye.

Students are looking forward to having their dads come to school with them. They will receive pencils and bookmarks as well as bragging rights when their special adult comes for the day. Pictures of the happy pairs will also be displayed on a special wall.