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Dads, Dogs, and Difference-Making: Playa del Rey Launches Watch D.O.G.S

Dads, Dogs, and Difference-Making: Playa del Rey Launches Watch D.O.G.S
Story by Tristan Chavez. Photos by Playa del Rey


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Playa Watch Dogs

Playa del Rey Elementary is bringing D.O.G.S. to campus! The school recently started its Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program which will welcome volunteer dads, grandfathers, uncles, and other father figures to its campus every Thursday for the remainder of the school year. The Watch D.O.G.S program aims to provide positive male role models for students while emphasizing the importance of education by having parents and family members present on campus to support students.

At Playa del Rey, those who volunteer will wear official t-shirts so students can easily identify Watch D.O.G.S. Volunteers will work to support students and staff by promoting education and safety around the school, encouraging students with smiles and high fives, monitoring the inside and outside of the campus, helping the flow of traffic during arrival and dismissal, speaking to classes about the importance of education, and much more.

Schools across the country have reported many benefits as a direct result of the Watch D.O.G.S program, directly impacting students, staff, and the volunteers themselves. The presence of multiple father figures on campus increases student participation in activities while promoting good behavior, fostering a safe environment for students that is supportive of learning. As a result, teachers are positively supported in educating their students in the classroom. Volunteers are also positively impacted by participating in the Watch D.O.G.S program, gaining a deeper understanding of their students’ lives at school while learning new ways to connect and relate to their students. 

“Getting involved in a child’s education is one of the most important things we can do as a father figure. It is important that students see that partnership between their father and their school,” said Kevin Gilbride, a teacher and father to a student at Playa del Rey Elementary.

Playa Watch Dogs Lunch

Watch D.O.G.S. volunteers will be on campus every Thursday for the remainder of the school year with the possibility of expanding the program to also take place on Tuesdays. The volunteers spend around 30-40 minutes in their own child’s classroom while spending the rest of their day on campus interacting with other students at the school. 

“Students get really excited about Thursdays because the Watch D.O.G.S. are here and they get to show their dads what they do in school,” added Tracey Leonard, an Instructional Coach at Playa del Rey Elementary. “Even if someone volunteers just one day, it makes a difference for their children and for students who might not have a father figure at home.”

Playa del Rey Elementary launched its Watch D.O.G.S. program on Thursday, February 8th with an event that welcomed over 100 people including more than 70 dads. For the event, the Little Caesars located on Gilbert Road and Guadalupe Road donated 45 pizzas and the Fry’s Food & Drug on Gilbert Road and Baseline Road donated cases of water for the attendees. 

Fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and other father figures are welcome to participate in the Watch D.O.G.S. program at Playa del Rey. To volunteer in the Watch D.O.G.S. program at Playa del Rey Elementary, please contact the school directly by emailing or by calling 480-892-7810. To learn more about the national Watch D.O.G.S. program, visit the organization’s website.