DOGS are running loose in Nampa elementary school

DOGS are roaming the halls of Iowa Elementary School in Nampa to make a difference in students’ lives.

Dads in Nampa
Lance Hebdon works with his daughter Katy during his time volunteering at Iowa Elementary.

Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) is a national program that encourages male role models to get involved in children’s lives and education. Last spring a teacher, who had seen the Watch DOG program successfully implemented in another school, suggested Principal Lynnie Hagemeier consider the program for Iowa.  An organizational meeting in December drew more than 90 men who wanted to learn about the program and 32 who signed up immediately.

In January, Dad volunteers Lance Hebdon, Paul Lang and Vance Russel began attending school at least once a week.

Russel said he wanted to join Watch DOGs because he sees a need for fathers to be active with their children’s lives and also because of the school issues that have been occurring throughout the nation, he wanted to make a difference.

Hebdon and Lang said initially the appeal was to spend time with their own children, but they quickly connected with other students at the school. “They are all my kids,” Hebdon said.

In addition to their help in classrooms, the DOGS play an important role for students who don’t have a father or male role model in their lives. The U.S. Census estimates that nearly 3,800 households in Nampa are women raising children on their own.

“It’s wonderful having these engaged Dads here,” said Hagemeier. “In the short time they’ve been visiting they are making connections with children, who light up when they see them.”

The Watch DOGS program originally started in 1998 in Arkansas.  The program encourages fathers, uncles and grandfathers to give their time at school to engage and motivate not only their kids, but also other students.  These men are truly Iowa’s “Heroes of the Hallways,” Hagemeier said.