Watch D.O.G.S. brings male role models at local school

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News 12 This Morning/Friday Feb. 7, 2014

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW)--"We have a large population of students who do not have a father figure in their life," said Keisha Uhle.

"Just my experience listening to students speak about not having a male role me that hit home," Cindy Hewitt added.

So, Uhle, along with fellow guidance counselor Cindy Hewitt started a Watch D.O.G.S. program at Aiken Elementary.

A national non-profit, Watch D.O.G.S. helps schools bring fathers in as positive role models and an extra set of eyes and ears for the building.

Both Watch D.O.G.S. Jeffrey Tokar, father of two at the school and Gene Belle, grandfather of two say they can see the difference their presence in the hallways brings.

"The make their day when they see you here," said Tokar. "They're happy to see you."

"This is something that's very beneficial to the students to see that males are concerned about their lives," Belle explained.

Since starting this program in last November they've been able to get at least one dad a day here at Aiken Elementary.

"The kids, they definitely know me by name," said Tokar. "Or, you know...'Mr. Watch Dog!"

They spend the full school day making rounds in and outside of the building--"from 7 until 2:30 pm," according to Tokar.

They also work with students in class.

"It really helps them to know that we're willing to help them," said Belle.

And aside from helping those who may not have father figures outside of school, Hewitt tells me it helps students see a positive male impact on their learning.

"We do not have any male employees on our staff," she explained. "We are all women and so they don't get that at school. At least at Aiken Elementary, they don't."

The term "D.O.G.S" in Watch D.O.G.S. stands for "Dads of Great Students."

But, the program invites grandfather, uncles--any kind of father figure who's willing to volunteer their time.

For more information, check out the national non-profit by clicking the attached link.

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