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home : news : news Sunday, May 29, 2016

1/15/2014 Email this articlePrint this article 
Pizza party kicks off 'D.O.G.S.' program at Ekstrand Jan. 20

By Kate Howes
Staff writer

Staff members at Ekstrand Elementary would like to see more D.O.G.S. in the building.

Dads of Great Students, that is.

"Watch D.O.G.S." is a special program developed by the U.S. Department of Education to increase male involvement in the nation's schools.

While working towards her mater's degree, Ekstrand Elementary guidance counselor Katie Burgmeier learned about the program from an article in a counseling magazine and decided to tuck it away until the right opportunity came along.

"After working at Ekstrand for a few months, this program came to mind as a way to help fathers - step-dads, grandfathers, big brothers or uncles - find a way to get more involved in their children's lives. A lot of programs at school are geared more for moms, but Watch D.O.G.S. is all about the dads."

Burgmeier goes on to explain D.O.G.S. is an innovative program focusing on education and safer schools by using positive influence of fathers and father figures for a two-fold purpose: to provide an unobtrusive fathering presence and to provide positive and active role-models for the students at Ekstrand.

After speaking with elementary principal Jen Vance, Burgmeier says they knew they wanted to present the program to the community.

With the support of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), she notes, they have been able to get the program off the ground.

An event to kick-off the program is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 20, at 6 p.m. at the school.

It is open to all students enrolled at Ekstrand and the father figures in their lives. Participants will be treated to a pizza party.

At 6:30 p.m., there will be a guest speaker and a video with information about the program.

Finally, "dads" will be able to line up and sign up for volunteer days.

"Any male in a child's family who would like to learn more about the program and how they can get involved is welcome," Burgmeier says. "Our hope is the dads will sign up for at least one volunteer day that evening. If they are unable to commit that night, we will get their contact information so we can look to them in the future for a possibility of volunteering."

The overall goal is to have at least one "dad" in the building every day while school is in session. Over 430 students attend Ekstrand and there are 180 days of school.

Some examples of how dads can assist at the school include monitoring school property, working one-on-one with a child or small group of children reading, helping with flashcards, homework, listening, befriending or whatever else needs to be done to improve the lives of students.

Burgmeier knows students are very important to and cherished by the "dads" in their lives.

"There never has been a program that has been offered just to dads in a school setting," she relates. "That makes D.O.G.S. unique and special. This gives our 'dads' a chance to help build and foster child/father relationships and make great impacts on their children."

Although it only is being offered at the elementary level, there has been discussion about expanding the program to Central students in grades K-12.

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