Watch D.O.G.S (Dads of Great Students) is a national program making a name right in the heart of Red Oak under the leadership of Mark Higginbotham.

Founded in 1998 by Jim Moore of Fayetteville, Ark., a concerned father who chose to take action in response to a middle school shooting in Jonesboro, Ark., he wanted to help prevent violence from occurring at his children’s school or at any school.

“After the shootings took place, one of Moore’s children asked him were they going to be shot at school,” Higginbotham said. “After that, (Jim) decided to do something to make his children and other children feel a little bit more safe while in school.”

Heading the programs at Eastridge Elementary, Shields Elementary and Red Oak Intermediate, Higginbotham said the purpose is to get fathers more involved and active in their child’s life by committing to one day of student/children involvement during the school year.

“We would like to get dads reconnected with their children and get children reconnected with their dads,” he explained, noting that getting fathers involved in classrooms is a positive thing for the children. “We would like for fathers to interact more with their children as well as other children. This program is doable and most fathers can do it.

“We’re also there for safety and security reasons, providing extra eyes and ears on the campuses,” he continued, saying they monitor the campus for locked doors and other safety issues. “Just last year, a Watch DOGS Dad noticed an unidentified male at the school who wasn’t suppose to be there.”

Eastridge Elementary was the first school to implement the program last year with both Shields Elementary and Red Oak Intermediate starting this year. There are about 50 to 60 fathers involved in the program.

The program is geared toward students of all ages but the desire is to have it implemented on the high school and junior high levels, Higginbotham said.

“This program will work even better if it’s grown through the elementary level because as children get older, they interact differently,” he said.

As a father of a kindergartner, a third-grader, a sixth-grader and an eighth-grader, Higginbotham said coordinating this program is kind of where his heart is.

“This is my second year to be involved in it,” he said, noting he’d heard about it prior to taking it over. “It’s kind of like a mission to me because through this program, we are able to help raise self-esteem in children and also make them feel important enough whereas dads don’t mind devoting their time to them. To me, all children are important and they’re worth my time to come here.”

Other staff agrees with the program making a positive impact on ROISD campuses.

“I think it’s an excellent idea because kids tend to get kind of excited when the dads are here,” said second-grade teacher, Kim Pevehouse. “We try to give them some support and with that, the dads have been so kind and patient with them.”

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