School is back in session at Tom McCall Elementary School in Redmond, and this year there are heroes in the hallways.
A new program at the school is bringing safety and smiles to its students.
It’s part of a national program, “Watch D.O.G.S.” that promotes safety and success in schools, in a way you might not think of right away.
The school only had two male faculty members last year, a janitor and the principal. But with the new program, there's a greater male presence, a key element to student success.
Known as the “Watch D.O.G.S." -- Dads Of Great Students, dads, uncles and grandfathers of children at the school volunteer their time to promote safety and success.
“You're here to help the school, and help get some security to the school,” Watch D.O.G.S. parent Jake Thompson said Tuesday. “And you're also here for your kids and they know that you care about them."
"He's usually gone for work a lot, so it's nice,” said Tom McCall fifth-grader Carter Chase.
"It's great having the dads in the school,” said second-grade teacher Aaron Alldredge. “A lot of dads, their focus is working for the family, so moms get to come in a lot."
The D.O.G.S. start the day greeting students.
Once school starts, the guys patrol the halls and parking lots periodically. They even sit in on classes.
"Safety in education has changed,” said second-grade teacher Valerie Grindstaff. “It's nice to have another set of eyes who knows what we're looking for when there's a problem."
But it's not all serious. The Watch D.O.G.S. are there to provide smiles and support, too.
Studies show student success is linked to male role models. In fact kids are twice as likely graduate from high school if they have a man to look up to.
"They just want your attention, and to connect,” said Watch D.O.G. parent Chad Hicks. “They want to have you help them with their assignments, and play with them on the playground. It's great."
"It's a blast! I go home way more tired than when I'm at work,” said Thompson.
Started by dads in Arkansas back in 1998, the national program is now in more than 2,800 schools in 46 states and the District of Columbia.
But Tom McCall is one of the first here in Central Oregon.
“I think it's great. I think more schools in the district should try it,” said Grindstaff.
“I would encourage every elementary school to have a watch dog program,” said Hicks. “A very small commitment, and it makes a big difference. And not only that -- it's just fun."
A fun, simple way the dads are helping keep the schools safe and kids successful.
“The best we can do is just be here for them,” said Thompson. “See a male in a positive light. Us being happy, giving them high-fives. You know, just being a positive person in their lives."
The program started at Tom McCall in April. Thirteen Watch D.O.G.S. volunteered through June.
This year, they are trying to get as many dads on board for the whole year.
If you child goes to Tom McCall, you can call the school at (541) 526-6400 to find out how to apply.