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Watchdogs Dad

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to work in my son s Elementary school.  He attends Lubbock-Cooper West Elementary, and this is the first year this campus has been open.  It s been a great experience, and I can t speak enough to the quality of my son s public education experience so far.  One of the new things they re doing this year is the Watchdogs program.  Basically the fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers, uncles and other father figures sign-up to work one entire day on campus sometime during the school year.  We were encouraged to use a vacation, solicit help from our employer for a community service opportunity, and to rearrange our lives to make this happen.

WATCH D.O.G.S. ® (Dads Of Great Students) is the safe school initiative of the National Center for Fathering that involves fathers and father figures to help create a more safe and secure learning environment in our nation’s schools.

ImageCheck out the ABC World News story about WATCH D.O.G.S.

Who are Watchdogs? Fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers, uncles, and other father figures who volunteer to serve at least one day each year in a variety of school activities as assigned by the school principal or other administrator.


Here are some thoughts from my day as a Watchdog Dad:

  • It was really wonderful in it s simplicity.  I arrived at the school at 7:30 in the morning, and was handed a schedule of classrooms, and areas I was to visit.  Easy, Easy!
  • In between different classroom visits, I was to walk the perimeter of the campus and just keep an eye out for whatever may or may not be happening.
  • It was heartbreaking to meet so many kids who told me their Dad s would NOT be a watchdog.  One girl even asked me, Are you going to get fired from your job for being here?
  • The t-Shirt they made me wear was horrible!  I understand the need for us to be clearly visible to teachers and students, but I felt like a big 1980 s walking billboard with this cartoon dog on my shirt.


  • I spent time in a 4th grade science class, hung up artwork for a 3rd grade teacher, fixed a desk for another 3rd grade teacher, read to a class of 3rd graders during snack time, opened 100 chocolate milk containers for Kindergarten lunch period, played kickball in Gym class, did multiplication flash cards with 3rd graders (and addition with 1st graders), helped kids in a 2nd grade class get their backpacks ready to go home at the end of the day.
  • It s really cool to now know everything that goes on in and around my son s school.  I feel like I met so many more people than I do when I go on field trips or classroom parties.
  • The best thing about the entire experience was the impression I made on my son.  He acted like his dad was a celebrity, and kept telling me all day how glad he was that I was a Watchdog.  Cracked me up!
  • I saw dozens of kids that attend our church, and as a Children s Pastor I must say that it was really cool to see our kids in a different environment.  I think it freaked some of them out a little that I was at their school, which I think is cool.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Scott · March 25, 2009

    I spent a day with a class of kindergartners and go periodically to volunteer for an hour, helping them learn to read. It’s been a highlight of my year and very interesting interacting with different groups of kids. And I’ve made quite a few new 5-year-old friends!

  2. AnnaMeadows · March 25, 2009

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea. I wish they would do something like this for middle and even high schools! My students are so needy for father figures in their lives! My visits to schools are just heartbreaking! Thank you for being a good dad. We don’t have enough of them in this world!