ANGIE, La. - One school in Washington Parish says it has the secret to happier kids and safer classrooms.
Whether it’s a basic booming voice, handing out high fives or just a one-on-one conversation, male interaction with students at Wesley Ray Elementary School in Angie has turned around the school experience there.
"These guys come out as a father image, whether it's father, uncle, stepfather, they get that male-child interplay, so to speak, so they have an opportunity to just talk to a male," said Esco Burton, leader of Watch D.O.G.S.
The males here are the school’s "Watch D.O.G.S.," which stands for Dads of Great Students. It’s a program picked up from a National Conference and dropped into the hallways of the school in November. About 40 dads take turns patrolling the campus throughout the year. They say it’s led to good morale among students, which equals good grades.
"Anything we do to help our kids be more successful, that's what we want to do," said Burton.
The D.O.G.S. are not only mentors to kids when they come into school. They're protectors of them too.
“I love having the extra eyes, helping watch the kids. I think it helps the kids feel a little more secure at school," said Principal Ginger Champagne.
"We hope that this method may be a better method than trying to bring guns and so forth to school to support our kids," said Burton.
The students think the D.O.G.S. do the trick.
McKenzie Thurmond said, “I like him here because he tells us what to do and him makes sure kids don't fight."
"I like them here so they will watch out for us,” said Rihanna Thurmond, whose dad is part of D.O.G.S.
The dads hope the watch grows to other schools locally. There are around 3,000 schools across the country that take part in the ‘Watch D.O.G.S.’ program. To learn more about getting it started in your school, click here.