Return to Headlines

WATCH D.O.G.S. program is back bringing smiles to students and staff at Madison Elementary

smiling father and son at a table in a classroom(11/18/2022) Students, staff and families at Madison Elementary School are excited to welcome back a volunteer opportunity for the positive male role models in the school community.

Since 2014, Madison has featured the WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads Of Great Students) program as an opportunity for fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers, uncles, and other father figures to serve as a full day volunteer at the school, but due to the pandemic, the program was put on hold. The Madison administration was unsure if it would return this year, but after hearing strong support from the PTO and families, the program is now back in full force. 

“One advantage of this program is that it gets men into the school to be good role models, but they also get to see what their child’s day is like at school,” said Madison principal Dorothy Olsen. “They get to see how hard teachers and students work and the life of an elementary school student.”

The school social worker, Jennifer Aeshliman, helps run the program and conducted a kickoff event in October. Since the kickoff, the school has welcomed a handful of dads to the school to participate. View photos of Madison's WATCH D.O.G.S. 

“Most are in awe with how efficiently the school day runs,” Aeshliman said. “They really appreciate the teachers after they see what they do and the students love seeing a WATCH D.O.G. in the building.”

The WATCH D.O.G.S spend the entire day at the school, starting with assisting with breakfast and ending with school dismissal. The volunteers are with their child in the classroom, at lunch and at recess, but also assist in other classrooms throughout the day. 

“I want to be there for my son and help the school out,” said Dan Blake, a father of a Madison kindergartener and recent WATCH D.O.G.S. volunteer. “The kids seem pretty excited to see me, which is fun for me to see them really enjoy having someone different in the building that cares about them.”

Volunteers play an important part in the success of students at all the schools in Anoka-Hennepin. Each school has a volunteer coordinator to help facilitate the needs of the schools, and families and community members can contact their neighborhood school to get involved. 

“We know that students do better when we have parents volunteering at the school,” Olsen said. “It’s a win-win. A win for the volunteers to see how our schools operate and how they can make a difference and a win for our Madison students.”