Watch D.O.G.S. welcome at Piggott Elementary

PIGGOTT, AR (KAIT) - Piggott Elementary School is offering a new program to provide positive role models for its students.

Thanks to funding from Piggott State Bank and help from the local McDonald's, the school implemented the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students).

"A lot of these kids just want that father figure," top dog Chris Brantley said.

Brantley started the program because he saw a great need. In Clay County, more than 15 percent of homes are single female-headed households.

As a father himself, Brantley said this program has always been very close to his heart to make sure kids who do not have fathers in their lives, have father-like role models.

"There are a lot of kids that go home and don't have a father to throw the ball in the yard with or to read a princess story with their little girl. They don't have that," Brantley said. "And when you do that, you see their face light up."

The school has about 35 of these role models involved in the program, and Brantley said volunteers do not have to be fathers of a student to participate.

"Here, we have grandfathers that are involved, uncles, stepdads," Brantley said.

Throughout the school day, these men become more than that: singing partners, lunch buddies, homework helpers and more.

"One of the biggest things we can do is sit down and read with a child that's at a low level and, hopefully, it helps them build confidence because they probably don't have anyone to read with at home," Brantley said.

Brantley said teachers see a direct impact inside and outside the classrooms.

"They see results with behavior, they see results with scores, reading levels," Brantley said. "If there's a certain [sound] level they're supposed to be at in the hall, sometimes we may cause a break in that because they get excited, but it doesn't faze anybody. The teachers enjoy it, too."

"They come running to me in the halls and try not to get them in trouble, but they still get excited," Watch D.O.G.S. volunteer Chad Speer said. "It's just an enjoyment to get to come down to the school, get to see the smiles on kids' faces when you walk down the halls, and give them a high five or just let them know you're there."

Speer volunteers almost every week, and his first grade daughter, Marley Speer, calls his regular visits "a treat."

"I really like it," Marley said. "Sometimes if he comes to eat with me, I might invite one of my friends to come and eat."

The program is also used for security purposes during the school day.

Students, teachers and volunteers all encourage all schools to look into the Watch D.O.G.S. program. To learn more, call Piggott Elementary at 598-2546 or visit the National Center for Fathering website.

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