Dads pitch in as Watch DOGS in local schools

SPOKANE, Wash. - Watch DOGS vo

There's a group of volunteers new to a handful of Spokane schools that is shattering the old image of "PTA moms".

If you ask any teacher they'll tell you that classroom volunteers are invaluable. Now, at Willard Elementary and a few other Spokane schools those volunteers come in the for of Watch D.O.G.S.

Watch D.O.G.S. stands for "Dads of Great Students". It's a national program that came to Willard two years ago and the dogs are already making a big impact.

"We're here if kids are having a bad day, we sit down and talk to them, pull them out of the class and just talk to them for five minutes, you know, it makes a huge difference," Leon Henry said.

Henry is one of 30 Watch D.O.G.S at Willard and has two kids who attend the school. He enjoys being able to see his own kids, but also interact with their peers. He especially enjoys the high fives and smiles he gets by just being a presence at the school.

Having that male presence is especially important for students who might not have an active dad at home. Terry Jepson, a grandfather of 26 including three at Willard, was asked by his 2nd grade granddaughter to fill in where dad could not.

"I know there's quite a few kids in this school that doesn't have their dad around and they kind of look up to us as substitute dads, I guess, which is great," Jepson said.

The dads not only help out with classroom activities like reading, math and arts and crafts, they also act as extra security at the school and look out for bullying on the playground.

"You can see something maybe progress, start to happen, we go over and talk and say, 'hey, you guys making the right decision?" Henry said.

Watch D.O.G.S. program Coordinator Jody Budge is also a teacher and says they dads, grandfathers, uncles and brother - men, really - help where teachers are too busy. She says when a student is having a tough time at home the dads can swoop in and distract them with a game or book while the teacher continues the lesson for the rest of the class.

"It just brings a tear to your eye when you know that these kids are just really excited about having a dad play basketball with them," Budge said.

It's a new world with a new role for dads and the 'help wanted' sign is up for all schools.

"Once you spend a day here in the classroom and stuff with the kids you want to come back," Jepson said.

For information on how you can participate click here.