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home : schools : othello school district May 29, 2016

12/19/2013 6:58:00 PM
Watch out for DOGS at Lutacaga
Erik Pague
Reporter

All November, students at Lutacaga Elementary School were on the lookout for DOGS roaming the halls. Not German shepherds or pit bulls, but for Dads of Great Students - male volunteers who take time out of their days to help out at the school and be good role models for kids by just being there and helping them out.
Lutacaga assistant principal Del Heistand said the program's been a great experience so far for the students and the DOGS and they are still on the lookout for more volunteers to help make their child's school a better place by keeping an eye out for bullying, playing with kids, helping them with homework and setting a good example for them to follow.
"Just their presence alone - you can tell the kids think of them like heroes for the day," Heistand said. "That's our philosophy: come in and be a hero. Just your presence here as a positive male role model is good enough in the kids' eyes."
Heistand hopes that eventually, dads will be able to commit an entire day of their time on occasion, but for now, the school is looking to get an hour or so here and there to set the tone for the program as it continues its early development.
"We have tried to reach out to positive male role models in the community to come in and help us establish the foundation for Watch DOGS," Heistand said.
Not all students have a positive male role model to look up to, but this program does exactly that.
Heistand said research shows having one leads to better students and better citizens. It works both ways though,
Heistand said.
"Usually what happens is, the Watch DOGS come in and they think it's for the kids," he said. "After they go through the experience, and they actually reflect on their time here, I think they find it's for them, as well. They feel valued, they feel like they're part of the education process and they feel like they're part of their son or daughter's education."
DOGS volunteer Joey Vela said all the students at Lutacaga, not just his daughter, look up to him and the other men when they're doing their thing.
When kids see him in his DOGS t-shirt, they automatically know there's somebody around to help, talk to or just play with, which he said is a big deal for them.
"I just wish there were more parents," he said.
Vela, a custodian at Lutacaga for the past nine years, said he's now able to help students better than what his job alone could afford and now he feels the students trust him with things they wouldn't
have before.
He said he gets a smile every time he rewards a student and wishes more people would get to share that experience with him.
To find out more about becoming a Watch DOG, contact Lutacaga
at 488-9669.






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