Sunday is Father’s Day, when we think about all the things our dads have done for us. In one north Idaho community dads are trying to do a lot more for their school and their kids.
Leotis McCormack’s 9 year old son started getting in trouble at school last fall. That did not go over well with McCormack, an officer with the Nez Perce Tribal Police in Lapwai. But it wasn’t just his son, many of his son’s friends were acting out at school as well. McCormack wanted to help.
“Growing up on an Indian reservation it’s very big to have, you know in my opinion, to have a father that’s involved," he says.
McCormack heard about a program called Watch D.O.G.S. sponsored by the nonprofit National Center for Fathering. It encourages dads to volunteer in schools. McCormack says in Lapwai a lot of moms would help in their children’s classes but no dads. He contacted Watch D.O.G.S. (dogs stands for dads of great students,) got some training, and started a program at Lapwai Elementary a few months ago. Since then he says, 66 men in his community of just over 1,100 people have spent at least one day at school. He says the program has helped the dads bond with their kids, like one stepfather who came to school.
“Their whole relationship he went by his first name until he started this Watch D.O.G.S. program," McCormack explains. "This young boy introduced him as his father. He said it was one of the proudest moments of his life because it was like he had made it beyond there.”
Lapwai Elementary’s principal says having the dads there has been extremely positive. McCormack says he’s helped small groups with reading, played with kids at recess and walked kids to the Boys and Girls Club after school. He says it’s fun, and next school year even more dads want to volunteer.
More than two thousand schools across the country participate in the Watch D.O.G.S. program, ten in Idaho. Most of those are in northern Idaho, but one school in American Falls does it as well as Roosevelt Elementary in Nampa.