The campus at Westwood Primary School will soon be the home of a mentoring program designed to bring more male role models into the educational environment.
Watch DOGS (Dads of Good Students) is a national program that encourages fathers, uncles, grandfathers or any adult male role to serve as mentors to students while offering a new presence on the respective campus.
It is being organized by WPS father Matthew Morris, who works for Leon County EMS, and campus grandfather Tom Wardell, both of whom see the need to bring more positive male influences into the school environment.
“My (supervisor) is involved in a similar program at his child's school, and I thought it was a great idea,” Morris said. “I really like this program. Everything is already done for you, it takes you step by step through the entire process.”
That process begins on Thursday, with an informational meeting for interested parties set to take place at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Westwood Primary School cafeteria. Pizza, donated by Domino's and Pizza Hut, will be provided. Sherwin-Williams has donated paper goods for the event.
“I brought the idea to the principal (Sonya Brown) and they got flyers out to all the parents pretty quickly,” Morris said. “We have over 100 people that are interested in the program. I am really surprised about the response we have received.”
Watch DOGS and similar male mentoring programs have seen as much as 90 percent drop in student discipline issues, just by their presence.
“I like that it was founded by fathers,” Morris said. “Watch DOGS is one of the few mentoring programs geared toward men.”
With plans to have no more than two Watch DOGS on duty during a single school day, the schedule begins at 7:15 a.m., with DOGS assisting students in drop off areas and spending time with them in the cafeteria for breakfast.