Outside schools across the Jackson Public School District in Mississippi last Monday, fathers gathered to cheer their kids on as they arrived to take standardized tests. The event, called the “WATCH D.O.G.S. Support Scholars Test Rally,” was organized by the district as part of the national WATCH D.O.G.S. program, an initiative that helps gets dads involved in kids’ education and safety.
Fredrick Nolan, the district coordinator of the program, who was at the McWillie Elementary School that day, said: "Sometimes, just knowing that others care about the success of our scholars is the motivation they need to cross the finish line into academic achievement." In addition to the dads, there were grandfathers, uncles, step-fathers, father-figures and even dads who aren’t biologically connected with anyone at the schools.
Nolan continued, "They said things like, ‘Do a great job! I know you’re going to ace that test!’ [They were] trying to rally the kids’ morale. ... The dads were really involved that day. It was just all hands on deck." Some children at McWillie Elementary walked through the high-five tunnel while others ran through the line.
McWillie Principal Sara Harper said "I think they felt ... more encouraged and supported. When they see that parental support from their dads ... they feel less stressed out about a state exam. It was exciting." Nolan added, "It was a great atmosphere. It’s amazing how men will rally around a common cause and that morning it was about our children."