When Thurl Bailey enters the room, it’s hard not to pay attention. The retired NBA star who played for the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves stands at 6 foot 11 inches, so when he speaks, people tend to listen — especially if you’re under 4 feet tall and going to elementary school.
But Crescent Elementary is hoping when Bailey comes to speak at a Watch DOGS rally at the school from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 19 that the students aren’t the only ones who are inspired. Principal Camie Lloyd is counting on all of the fathers in the audience to feel the fire, too.
“(Thurl Bailey) has a foundation where he is trying to encourage men to get more active in their communities and help them be a more positive role model,” Lloyd said. “It’s really nice to see male figures take a leading role and show it’s OK to display those types of attributes.”
Lloyd asked Bailey to come speak to the school, 11100 S. 230 East, as a kick-off to a new school year and recruit new blood to volunteer as part of the Watch DOGS program, which stands for Dads of Great Students. The program calls on men in the community, namely fathers, grandfathers, step-fathers, uncles and other father figures, to volunteer in the classroom at least one day out of the year. Students who don’t have a strong male figure in the home can particularly benefit from seeing men in the classroom cheering them on.
WatchDOGS volunteers can help in a number of ways at the school, from assisting students in the morning as they cross the street, to reading one-on-one with a struggling student, to eating lunch and playing at recess with students. “Many school principals have reported that the mere presence of a WatchDOG dad dramatically reduces reports of bullying,” according to the WatchDOGS website, www.fathers.com/watchdogs.
Each school that features the program appoints one man as the “Top Dog,” and he is tasked with organizing a working schedule for all interested volunteers. At Crescent, usually one WatchDOG is at the school every day of the school year. Missing a day of work to spend time at the school can be a sacrifice for dads, says Wesley Tillman, Top Dog at Crescent, but the sacrifice is worth it.
“It literally takes money out of their pockets to come do that,” Tillman says. “But I say your son or your daughter is never going to forget it. They are always going to remember the day their dad came to school. That’s cooler than taking your kid to Lagoon.”
Want to get involved? The following schools in Canyons District have WatchDOGS programs. Please contact the main office of the school for contact information.