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Watch D.O.G.S. in Starkville

Reported by: Robert Byers
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Updated: 12/05/2013 7:06 pm
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) - Lee Brand, Jr., is a "Watch Dog" in his son's first grade class at Sudduth Elementary in Starkville.

The "Dogs" in the Watch D.O.G.S. program stands for "Dads Of Great Students."

Brand along with several other men also visit other classes in the school serving as positive male role models for students.

Ginger Mitchell with Sudduth said, "They're put in small groups helping students on things they need help with. Sometimes our dads are more comfortable on the playground or in the cafeteria, and they spend time out there with them."

An extensive background check is done on each participant, and they're never alone with students.

The "Watch Dogs" are made up of fathers, grandfathers, uncles and other father-figures who volunteer their time at the school as often as they can.

Volunteer Lee Brand, Jr., said, "Sometimes in the classroom it can be anything from reading a book to helping with assignments. One day on the playground we were doing push ups. Because I'm a big guy I push all the swings for the kids. It's just about interacting with as many kids as you can."

Brand's son says he enjoys the time spent with his father at school and so do his fellow classmates.

Tre Brand said, "He always wants to come in my classroom because he wants to help us."

Sudduth Elementary is the only school in the district with this program. It's hoped other schools may add it.

Sudduth is a K-2 school with close to 1,200 students.

Educators say the male presence in the school has improved discipline and overall learning.

Assistant Principal Ramon Forbes said, "Some students aren't able to have both mom and dad in the home. It's great having our community involved. By having the dads take a day out of their schedule and work with the students makes a difference. There's a positive male role model."

Leaders also say it gives the men a better appreciation of the job teachers do, and helps them relate more to these young people.
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