NORMAN — With just a month of volunteering under his belt, Jed Bowers already sees the benefits of getting involved at his son Jaden's school.
At Truman Primary, where Jaden attends prekindergarten, Bowers helps with traffic control, a specific problem at that school.
When children are being picked up or dropped off, the streets often become congested, with people paying no heed to one-way signs, threatening students' safety, he said.
As a member of Truman's Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program, Bowers and other fathers now direct traffic before and after school, escort students to their classrooms and generally serve as mentors to the children by getting to know them better.
Through his volunteer work, Bowers said he helps ensure the safety of students and is engaging more actively in his son's life.
Across the nation, schools are taking steps to ensure their students have a safe learning environment through Watch D.O.G.S., a program founded after a 1998 middle-school shooting in Jonesboro, Ark. Watch D.O.G.S. utilizes an often overlooked resource: fathers.
Five of Norman's elementary schools offer the program, and on Tuesday, founder Eric Snow was in Norman to urge expansion to other schools.
“The education of our children has to be the No. 1 priority in this country,” said Snow in an address to Norman parents, principals and educators at the Nancy O'Brien Performing Arts Center.
“We watched schools, and we listened to schools, and we found that these role models have a very positive impact.”
Whether it is reading aloud, monitoring the playground or simply being a presence in the hallways, the fathers, as well as uncles, grandfathers and other male family members, become more engaged in children's lives. They work closely with educators in the classroom, while acting as mentors for their own children and every student.
The education of our children has to be the No. 1 priority in this country. We watched schools, and we listened to schools, and we found that these role models have a very positive impact.”
Watch D.O.G.S. founder Eric Snow,