Once students get to middle school there is a perception, said Gavin Ward, vice principal of Carson Middle School, that parents no longer need to be involved. “This is not true,” he said. “We need to have parents. We want to have parents involved.”Particularly fathers. The school has joined a nationwide program Watch D.O.G.S — Dads of Great Students — to involve more men on campus.“The more fathers are involved, we see a reduction in discipline problems,” Ward said. “There’s just a ton of positives.”The program started last year with a handful of committed fathers, including Pat Anderson, the volunteer coordinator known as the Top D.O.G.“It tapped into a feeling I have that for whatever reason men seem to have abdicated their role in child rearing,” Anderson said. “It’s a global problem, and I whole-heartedly disagree with that perception.”Anderson said becoming involved in the program was a natural progression for him when his daughter Natalie entered the middle school. From the time his daughters were babies, he said, he has played an active part in their care.“I think children become better adults if they have active and engaged father figures in their lives,” he said. “That message hits a note with me.”Anderson and Ward are hoping to get more volunteers on board this year, hosting an informational meeting 6 p.m. Oct. 3 at the school.“In listening to parents, there seems to be a real concern about a lack of discipline among young people today. Bullying always comes up in conversations,” Anderson said. “If this is a concern you have as a parent, this is an opportunity as a father to get involved and reduce that kind of behavior on campus.”Ward said volunteers need not only be fathers.“We’re looking for father figures,” he said. “It can be uncles or grandfathers, men wanting to help.”The program, sponsored through the parent-teacher association, is not intended to exclude women from campus, he said.“We’re not trying to replace mothers,” he said. “In our society today, the absence of fathers is huge. We need male role models. But we still want our moms to volunteer.”Ideally, members of the Watch D.O.G.S. would spend an entire day at the school, helping out in reading classes and science labs or sharing career information. They would also be present in hallways during the lunch break and in between classes.“They’re not the police,” Ward said. “They’re just another adult who cares.”Anderson, who uses his annual leave from his state job to volunteer, is crafting a letter to employers to suggest alternate solutions to allowing men time off to volunteer.“I’m a true believer in valuing the preciousness of others,” Anderson said. “Look around and try to help people around you. If you do that, you’ll watch the rewards come back to you 10 fold.”If you goWHAT: Watch D.O.G.S Pizza BlowoutWHEN: 6 p.m. Oct. 3WHERE: Carson Middle SchoolFor more information, contact Gavin Ward at email@example.com or 283-2800; or Patrick Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 883-3692.
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