Updated:OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. —
A new program called Watch Dads of Great
Students, or DOGS, in Osceola County is giving teachers a helping hand in ensuring school safety.
Concerned fathers are now walking the halls of KOA Elementary School in Poinciana to help keep the peace.
Channel 9 has learned the program has been so successful that other schools are looking to do the same.
KOA elementary has more than 800 students, so the extra eyes have been welcomed by school officials.
A.J. Montes is a combat veteran who spent Friday walking a little girl to the nurse's office and helping a little boy find his lost tooth.
Father Raul Aponte made sure kids weren't getting out of hand in the cafeteria.
"So whether the staff is turned around, we've always got their eyes on everything that's going on," said Aponte.
Both fathers are part of the program that has dads volunteering to monitor the halls outside and anywhere else the school needs them.
"We just feel a lot safer for the children, the teachers, the whole environment," said Kathe Weisheyer of KOA.
Weisheyer brought the program to KOA with the help of a federal grant.
"The best part is being able to see my son and interact with the kids on a daily basis," said father and volunteer Jeffrey Patrick.
Patrick's son, Aaron, is quiet and new to the school, but he knows dad is just around the corner if he needs him.
The other 800 kids know it, too, and Weisheyer said the students have actually been behaving better because of it.
Aponte believes the dads' presence could also deter any potential predators from prowling nearby.
"When you least expect it, we're coming out of a corner," he said.
All of the fathers go through extensive background checks and don't have to commit a lot of time even though retiree and father Sam Singh spends almost every day at the school.
When we asked Aponte's daughter, Kailyanna, what it's like having dad around during the day, her smile said it best.
"Especially during lunch when I see him. It's the best time," she said.
The pilot program has others in the county hoping to get similar programs off the ground.
In the meantime, dozens of dads have signed on at KOA Elementary to volunteer at least one day a school year.