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

Dad involvement program comes to Legacy

Ethan Bell, 10, and his father, Edwin Bell, eat donuts at a Watch DOGS breakfast in the cafeteria.

Yibran Franco

Ethan Bell, 10, and his father, Edwin Bell, eat donuts at a Watch DOGS breakfast in the cafeteria.

Brooke Johnson and Brinley Koenig

Dads at Mary Jo Sheppard Elementary, Nancy Neal Elementary, Donna Shepard Intermediate and Linda Jobe Middle greet students with high fives and stickers as they walk through the doors in the morning. Mr. Chad Lovell, the lead volunteer of the program, stands at one of the doors with a smile on his face as he remembers the way the male role model in his life inspired him to change the course of his life and hopes he can do the same for many students here at Legacy when the Watch D.O.G.S. program launches on Tuesday, Dec. 5 with a 6:50 a.m. “Donuts with Dads” event.

Created in 1998 by Jim Moore, the Watch D.O.G.S., Dads Of Great Students, program serves to increase security and male presence in schools. Principal Dr. Shelly Butler gave Mr. Lovell permission to start the program here at Legacy.

“I hope [this program] becomes a legacy of Mansfield ISD. A true resource that every principal can rely on [and] students can depend on,” Mr. Lovell said. “And, Dad’s embrace it to the extent that when they have a rainout or planning vacations, they think Watch D.O.G.S.”

The program asks dads to donate one vacation day a year then create a schedule with the school that would allow them to be on campus for safety and support but at the same time interact with all the students by giving high fives in the hallway and working in small group with 5 to 6 classrooms throughout the day.

“[The program] has inspired me to see [my dad] be a part of something,” freshman Chloe Bagley said. “It gets the kids and dads more involved.”

One day in October, Mr. Lovell went to have lunch with his son, sophomore Aiden Lovell. Other students recognized him from the times he volunteered as a Watch D.O.G.S. at previous schools and some even gave him a high five. Dr. Butler then asked Mr. Lovell to become a door greeter at Legacy and he said yes. He received countless “Thank You’s” and “How is your day?’s” and even began giving students high fives.

“When I started high fiving them, they lit up,” Mr. Lovell said. “I realized that these high school students are still kids and get a lift in their step the same way us dads do when we get a high five at work for doing something great. I realized the kids remembered [this program] and could embrace it. When Dr. Butler asked me to be a door greeter, I realized the school had a need for safety. After talking with Mr. Cousins, I realized the other pieces were needed as well: support and male presence.”

After elementary schools implemented the Watch D.O.G.S. Program, they saw an increase in reading levels by six levels. The school administration and volunteers hope the program will elevate Legacy students’ performances as well. Dads said they have seen students’ spirits light up when they interact with the parents.

“The joy I receive from helping students is unmatched by any competition, great day at work, or donation I can otherwise make,” Mr. Lovell said. “My 8 hour donation of time as a Watch D.O.G.S. is only topped by the joy I receive from my own children.”