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Howard elementary implements program to bolster father involvement in academics

A sign in the Howard School District. (Republic file photo)

HOWARD — The Howard Elementary School is bolstering parent involvement in a big way.

This year, the school implemented the national WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program, which promotes fathers' involvement in their students' educations.

So far, more than 40 fathers or father figures participate in the Howard chapter of the program, spending time in classes helping with reading instruction, math, projects and going to recesses and lunch, helping where needed, according to Howard Principal Chris Noid. The fathers are encouraged to "put in as much time as they can afford to give," Noid said.

On the day of their participation, fathers are given a briefing of what they are to do, and wear an official WATCH D.O.G.S. T-shirt to identify them.

"Parent involvement and support is such a key to student success as studies have shown," Noid said in an email to The Daily Republic. "... Having those role models and extra eyes I think are important to show students it isn't just the moms that think education is important but the dads also."

Superintendent Todd Lee echoed Noid, saying the program allows fathers to positively impact education who otherwise wouldn't know how to get involved.

"It's so important to have dads involved in the school because it models the behavior that school is important for the students and shows them that their parents value education," Lee said. "Sometimes parents want to help but don't know how. This program is great because it can help dads learn how they can support education and learning at home, as well."

Since the WATCH D.O.G.S. program's creation in 1998, more than 6,450 schools nationwide have launched an associated program of its own, according to the organization's website. The Howard chapter got its start when Noid won a free start-up kit — valued at approximately $450 — at the state principals conference last year. Nationally, WATCH D.O.G.S. can be implemented in kindergarten through 12th-grade, but the program focuses on the elementary in Howard, Noid said.

And Noid encourages other area schools to give WATCH D.O.G.S. a try.

"So far I have had great support and results from teachers and those participating," Noid said. "The students of the WATCH D.O.G.S. absolutely like having their dads etc. being at school and the other students have been excited also with the help and presence."