- Sponsorship -

Dads of Great Students Group Expanding


Four years ago, when Todd Yemc was laid off, he went “to work” volunteering every single day in his kindergarten daughter’s classroom.

Ridgeview’s principal, Maryalyce Zerrip, asked him if he would be willing to try organizing a local chapter of the national outreach program known as the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students).

By the end of the year, he had “about eight guys interested.” One of those was Mickey Larson, who expressed a desire to do a program at Appleview.

David Oudbier picks a date to volunteer as his fifth-grade son Cayden Oudbier looks on

The following summer, Yemc spent time with a Watch D.O.G.S. group in the Rockford district, learningwhat he needed to know to recruit and schedule dads and other father-figures into Sparta classrooms.

He is enthusiastic about response from both volunteers and the students, and is grateful for the support he received from the Rockford program. In an effort to encourage other schools to implement the program, he says, “I have a standing offer to do the same for anyone wishing to start a chapter in their school.”

The response to starting a Watch D.O.G.S. group that first year was big, he said, with over 120 men – dads, uncles, grandpas, stepdads and boyfriends – stepping up to volunteer.

Volunteers wear cool shirts so they are easily recognized by the students

As the number of volunteers increase, so do the positive responses to the program.

“It doesn’t take any special skills, the guys just need to show up and be with the students,” said Larson, who is hopeful that the program will someday be expanded to the middle school. “The ones that volunteer are already somewhat engaged, but some kids never see a male role model.

“It is very special for the students to have them there. When a volunteer steps out unto the playground — say, with a basketball — within seconds there are 30 or more kids surrounding him.”

“This is our fourth year and we hope to make it the best year yet,” Yemc told those who gathered recently for the annual pizza party and sign-up night.

CONNECT

Watch for the Sparta D.O.G.S. on Facebook

National Organization

- Sponsorship -
Janice Holst
Janice Holst
Janice Holst is a reporter covering Kent City and Sparta. She has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and enjoys spending some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio or email Janice.

LATEST ARTICLES

Longtime volunteer does whatever’s needed for school: ‘I love being here’

A 24-year parent and grandparent volunteer tends to student and family needs at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy...

Lessons from a pandemic: ‘agile learners’ need ‘agile adults’

Reflecting on the end of fall semester and 2020, Superintendent Dedrick Martin sat down with School News Network to discuss how Caledonia adapted to school closures, virtual learning and social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic...

It’s all about getting students back to classrooms, Supt. Shibler says of the vaccine

Superintendent Michael Shibler hopes the more people get vaccinated, the closer we are to the end of the pandemic...

Young constitutional scholars view current events, politics through historical lens

East Grand Rapids and East Kentwood high school We the People team members have qualified for the national competition, becoming well versed in civics and critical thinking along the way...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Good behavior encouraged at home

For students learning from home, positive behavior rewards are still possible...

Discovery of 1959 time capsule makes local history tangible

Ever wonder what high school students were thinking about 60 years ago? Soon, today’s students and the rest of us will find some clues...

Mental health checks and career exploration find virtual home in school districts

A tool students can use with their phones is opening doors to careers -- many of them local -- and giving administrators a read on emotional wellness...
- Sponsorship -

HOW'S SCHOOL TODAY?

Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...

RADEMACHER & FRIENDS

Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -

MEDIA PARTNERS

Maranda Where You LiveWGVU

SUSTAINING SPONSORS