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Who Let The D.O.G.S. Out?

By: Joy Warren

The D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) were out in force Tuesday evening at Elizabethtown Middle School.  The WatchDOGS program was launched through a joint effort of Elizabethtown Middle, Bladen County Schools, and a grant from Wal-Mart. Principal, Elizabeth Cole welcomed the 175+ in attendance and stated that ETMS is the first school in the county to launch the program.  Mr. Pat Litzinger, Church/School Partnership Coordinator with the North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church spoke with a group of interested volunteers about the program which involves fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and other father-figures who volunteer for at least one day each year at school.  Litzinger stated “your attendance tonight speaks of your commitment to Elizabethtown Middle School and to public education.”  The program is not affiliated with the Methodist Church but one of the goals of the Church/School Partnership is to help schools increase parental involvement and this program provides a great opportunity for dads to be a part of their child’s education.

He spoke of the great need for positive adult male role models for students.  Statistics show that students are twice as likely to graduate from high school when they have adult male role models in their lives.  Litzinger wanted those in attendance to understand that Dad’s Matter.  WatchDog dads and volunteers perform a variety of duties during their volunteer day including monitoring hallways; assisting with unloading and loading buses and cars; monitoring the lunchroom; or helping the teacher in the classroom by working with small groups of students on assignments.  Mrs. Cole noted that each volunteer would have to go through a background check in order to participate.

The overall goals of the program are to: 1) to provide positive male role models for the students, demonstrating by their presence that education is important; and 2) to provide extra sets of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying.

Volunteers completed registration forms and signed up for a day on the school calendar.  Volunteers included dads, granddads, church members, community members and members of the business community.  If you would like more information on how to become involved in the ETMS WatchDOGS program, contact the school at 910-862-4071 or ercole@bladen.k12.nc.us.

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