Watch D.O.G.S.

Messenger photo by Rachel Scofield
Tyrone Sullivan monitors the halls of Baldwin Junior High during a class change. Sullivan, a member of the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Good Students) program, helps however he can around the school.

Tyrone Sullivan roams the halls of Baldwin Road Junior High ushering stragglers to their classes.

"This is a good school," Sullivan said.  "They get a little lippy sometimes, but nothing people would consider bad."

Sullivan is a member of Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Good Students), a group of fathers who volunteer their time to help the staff in many of Reynoldsburg Schools.

The dads perform different duties depending on the needs of their child’s building.

"Anything the school needs," Sullivan said.

On Tuesday, Sullivan began the day by supervising the students as they arrived at school, throughout the day circling the halls to ensure no student wandered without permission, and he delivered items from the office.

Keeping order at lunch is always the biggest challenge. On this particular day, hungry, children began pushing each other as they waited in the cafeteria line.
Watch D.O.G.S is a national program begun in Arkansas by Jim Moore. In 1998, three children and one teacher died when a student at their middle school pulled the fire alarm and then shot them as they exited the building.

Moore had children enrolled in a nearby school and he wanted to do something to protect them. 

He created Watch D.O.G.S. "to help every school in America be positively influenced by the committed involvement of fathers and father figures in lives of their children and students," according to the group’s Web site.

Today more than 760 programs exist in 33 states.

"The big thing is presence," Sullivan said. "If a kid seems like he is might act up, he sees an adult and lets it pass."

This year is the second year at Baldwin Dads of Great Students has had a presence.

"The program has been just marvelous," Principal Dr. Terrance Hubbard said. "I am thrilled to have in the building another set of eyes. It’s a source of encouragement for the young people to see dads (helping in the schools)."

Sullivan said unlike others, he did not join Watch D.O.G.S to encourage his son, Everette Sullivan.

Everette is a good student and Sullivan always has been involved with his education.

He instead wants to help others.

"I kinda always made an appearance at Everette’s schools so to him seeing dad at school is old hat," Sullivan said.

Everette agreed that seeing his dad at school is not special for him, however his friends think, "it’s pretty cool." None of their dads belong to Watch D.O.G.S.

Hubbard said he would like to have more people become Watch D.O.G.S. if they can receive permission from their employers to take days off work.
"It can be women also," Hubbard said.  "What stands behind it are concerned, conscientious adults."

Twelve fathers volunteer at Baldwin.

"I wish there were more," Sullivan said.  "They come a minimum of once a month.  That’s always the challenge – to find people who can take the time. Our kids are worth it."

Sullivan’s company American Electric Power allows him to take vacation days for the dates he plans to help at the school.

Through the Watch D.O.G.S. program he has fostered a better relationship with his son’s teachers, Sullivan said.

"I just want to stress for parents in general that it is always good to walk a few feet in these people’s shoes," Sullivan said.  "This is a good opportunity to connect with the school your child attends."

For more information on joining Watch D.O.G.S. contact your child’s school and ask to volunteer.

Todd Fewell, who directs the Reynoldsburg program, said all help is needed, especially in the middle and junior high schools.

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