Pinewood Elementary School program gets dads involved

A unique relationship-building program created by the National Center for Fathering will be introduced in the Monticello School District later this month.

Danielle Henry, the new K-2 school social worker at Pinewood Elementary, said the WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) program helps empower males and breaks down the barriers that go along with volunteering in a female-dominated educational setting.

Pinewood Elementary School staff and program participants celebrated the start of the program with a Tuesday night pizza party earlier this week.

Male volunteers involved in the WATCH D.O.G.S. program will start working in the Pinewood building the week of Oct. 28 to Nov.1. The nationally-based program helps empower males and breaks down the barriers that go along with volunteering in a female-dominated educational setting. Pinewood Elementary School staff and program participants celebrated the start of the program with a Tuesday night pizza party after an information and introduction session presentation by Danielle Henry and Pinewood Elementary School staff.   (Photo by Tim Hennagir)

Male volunteers involved in the WATCH D.O.G.S. program will start working in the Pinewood building the week of Oct. 28 to Nov.1. The nationally-based program helps empower males and breaks down the barriers that go along with volunteering in a female-dominated educational setting. Pinewood Elementary School staff and program participants celebrated the start of the program with a Tuesday night pizza party after an information and introduction session presentation by Danielle Henry and Pinewood Elementary School staff. (Photo by Tim Hennagir)

According to Henry, male volunteers involved in the WATCH D.O.G.S. program will start working in the Pinewood building the week of Oct. 28 to Nov.1.

”The program gives dads a sense of ownership and pride and it offers them a certain level of support when needed,” Henry said. “My hope is that our volunteers will be fathers, stepfathers, uncles, grandpas, or brothers of our current Pinewood students. In many elementary buildings it is very female dominated. I think this program will help empower dads and it will make them feel more comfortable with the idea of volunteering in the school because it is a program just for them.”

Jarilyn Loberg, a grade three to grade five school social worker, will help Henry coordinate the program.

Henry expressed interest in bringing the program to Monticello after getting a chance to see the program in action while working in the Sauk Rapids Rice District. She spoke with Principal Eric Olson about the idea.

“He thought it sounded great and he gave me his full support,” she said. “From there I took part in the conference call training and I spoke with my parent-teacher organization leadership team, and finally the entire staff,” Henry said. “I received their support to take on the challenge of starting this new program in Monticello.”

Research shows that having a positive male adult role model in a student’s life will help their child excel in many different areas, Henry explained.

The program helps foster and build positive relationships for those that don’t necessarily have a positive male role model in their life.

“Having the dads in the building helps show that they are intentionally taking an interest in their child’s life and the lives of others,” she said. “WATCH D.O.G.S. gives the dads a greater sense of personal fulfillment and the students and community are benefiting from this positive energy. This program helps allow the community to get involved in the school setting in a positive way and that positive relationship will only help the school and community grow together. The WATCH D.O.G.S. Program brings a unique dynamic to Pinewood and that is something that is invaluable.”

According to Henry, once the program gets started in Monticello, each male father figure who volunteers will have their picture taken with their child and those photos will be displayed in the main office in the building.

Danielle Henry, Pinewood Elementary School, K-2 School Social Worker, 3-5 Principal Brad Sanderson, K-2 Principal Eric Olson, 3-5 School Social Worker Jarilyn Loberg and Behavior Internationalist Mary Schapekahm pose with their WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) T-Shirts. (Submitted Photo)

Danielle Henry, Pinewood Elementary School, K-2 School Social Worker, 3-5 Principal Brad Sanderson, K-2 Principal Eric Olson, 3-5 School Social Worker Jarilyn Loberg and Behavior Internationalist Mary Schapekahm pose with their WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) T-Shirts. (Submitted Photo)

“The Pinewood staff have been supportive throughout the entire time the project has been in its planning stages,” Henry said. “All teachers are opening up their classrooms for the volunteers to come and they are excited about seeing the new faces in the building. Principal Olson and I have been working closely with the staff to develop the best schedule possible for all the volunteers so they feel they are working and helping in many different ways,” she said.

Volunteers will also help out on the playground, in specials areas and in the lunchroom, Henry said.

“I want dads seeing and feeling firsthand how much their presence and support can help shape the students and kids they will come in contact with.”

Dads will report to the school’s main office wearing their official WATCH D.O.G.S. T-shirt.
They will check-in with school staff and complete daily forms and hand in their completed background check and volunteering training video form.
During the day, program participants will assist with morning and afternoon bus duty and make sure hallways are clear before reporting to their scheduled classroom or area.
Dads assist teachers throughout academic day and are allowed to attend lunch, recess and special events.
For more information about the program, visit www.fathers.com or the Pinewood Elementary School website page link or contact Henry directly at 763-272-2405 or email at danielle.henry@monticello.k12.mn.us.

Contact Tim Hennagir at tim.hennagir@ecm-inc.com

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