• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Board thanks volunteer Watch D.O.G.S.

ON MONDAY night, the Woodford County Board of Education thanked Watch D.O.G.S. volunteers for their dedicated service to mentoring students and providing much-appreciated helping hands to teachers. From left are board Vice Chair Debby Edelen with Watch D.O.G.S. volunteers Zoey Warthman (Southside Elementary), Robert Smith (Simmons Elementary) and Jeremiah Johnson (Northside Elementary), and board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

The fathers, grandfathers and other adult male role models - collectively known as Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) - spend countless hours volunteering in Woodford County's four elementary schools and Woodford County Middle School. These volunteers were thanked for making a difference in the lives of students on Monday night. Three Watch D.O.G.S. volunteers, who attended the Woodford County Board of Education meeting, shared their personal experiences. Jeremiah Johnson, who helped start the Watch D.O.G.S. program at Northside Elementary, told board members that it's been an honor and pleasure to help teachers and get involved in the lives of students. "It's just been very rewarding," Johnson said. He said being a Watch D.O.G.S. volunteer opened his eyes to what teachers invest in this community's children every day. "It's a different kind of tired. It's not a physical tired. It's like an emotional tired," said Johnson. "It's been awesome being involved in the kids' lives. And also I just have a new-found respect for the people that work in the schools because it's a tough job." A youth pastor, Robert Smith described volunteering at Simmons Elementary as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of kids who may not have a role model at home. "You don't realize how much effect you have on a kid's life," said Smith. He did after receiving handmade cards from every student at Simmons during his hospital stay following an automobile accident that ended his career as a firefighter. "That showed me the impact that I was having on these kids' lives," he explained. Besides making a difference in the lives of students, Smith said volunteer Watch D.O.G.S. provide a much-appreciated helping hand to teachers. Watch D.O.G.S. volunteer Zoey Warthman said the program has also allowed him to spend more time with his youngest daughter during her school day at Southside Elementary. "It's really, really special for our family," he said. WCMS Principal Tracy Bruno said being a Watch D.O.G.S. volunteer gives fathers "a real perspective on how middle school works." By spending time in a school's classrooms, cafeterias and hallways, Watch D.O.G.S. volunteers get a glimpse of how hard teachers and other school staffers are working to make a difference for kids, schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins said. "Our hearts are in the right place and you are bringing your hearts into that environment too," Hawkins said. "And so I want to thank you for being those special people who not only do the work in the building, but also go out into the community and spread that good news," he added. Said Southside Principal Jason McAllister, "I've never had (a dad or granddad or uncle) leave (after spending a day in our school), who didn't have an unbelievable time."

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