SPS WATCH D.O.G.S brings dads and their kids together

Published 4:58 pm Friday, September 22, 2023

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Suffolk Public Schools is working to bring dads and their children together. John Yeates Middle School kicked off the first of two Suffolk Public Schools Watch D.O.G.S programs on Tuesday, Sept. 19, to help fathers be more involved in their children’s lives. The evening saw 75 dads come out to spend time with their children. Following conversing with each other during a pizza dinner, a presentation was held by WATCH D.O.G.S John Yeates Middle School Director Kevin Schweiss, who explained the duties that fathers have as WATCH D.O.G.S members while noting the importance they play in both their own kids and other students’ lives.

“You’re going to have an opportunity to say something as a male role model that some of these kids may have never heard before,” Schweiss said. “Simple things like ‘Use your manners,’ ‘We don’t talk to each other that way,’ ‘Great job,’ ‘I’m proud of you.’ Most of us in this room probably do that, we take that for granted, but I’m telling you, there are kids in our schools that don’t hear that. And we can be that person in these schools to kids that we have never met before. We have that opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s life.”

Schweiss detailed that the dads will have a structured schedule to help be a positive presence with the children from the start of the school day to the end. Activities include welcoming kids to school while giving high-fives, participating in gym class, and supporting both children and teachers. Following the presentation, Schweiss talked in depth about the program.

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“They’re basically seeing the kids in from the buses or from the cars, dropping the kids off, they’re helping getting those kids in the building and then they have a schedule that they follow,” he said. “They have 30-45 minute stations where they actually spend time in classrooms either helping a teacher with a kid that may be struggling. Maybe previewing a test with a kid, somebody may have done poorly on a test and needs some information, these are just kind of examples of what we would be doing.”

Schweiss emphasized the importance of a positive male influence in a child’s life.

“Really the premise of WATCH D.O.G.S. is to have a positive male role model in the school, every day if possible. Because the reality is, 95% of educators are female. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but the male presence in a school, even within a child’s life, is a difference making situation,” Schweiss said. “If we can provide that at no cost by just being here and being a male role model and change the landscape, change the structure, change the school’s morale just by uplifting kids, that’s why we’re here.”

On what he hopes the fathers and their children will take away from the event, Schweiss expressed the importance of fathers being connected with their children, especially in today’s technology driven world.

“In this world we live in, everything is so digital that communication, or that connection, has kind of been lost. This is a way for us to kind of remind the dads that, just like the guy said in the training video that we watched, ‘It’s not about money, it’s not about things, it’s about being there for your child,’” he ended.