At ACK we have what we call “Go Play” days, which are days where employees can take a paid day off to go and play. There is also something in there for non-paddlers that I actually did for my Go Play day, not because I didn’t want to go paddling but rather because it was equally or more rewarding to do something for the community.
Last Thursday I got to spend the day at my son Jack’s Elementary School. The PTA has a program that isn’t unique to just his school but actually at 2,659 campuses covering 46 states — it is called WATCH D.O.G.S (Dads Of Great Students) (www.fathers.com/watchdogs).
The program is to engage men, inspire children, reduce bullying and enhance the educational environment at schools. It was originally started by two dads as a way to put more men on campus and a presence at schools. Honestly, it is perfect for me, I don’t see myself a PTA type of person, as a matter of fact, I didn’t know the PTA allowed men in until I attended a meeting. Sure you can call me sexist for thinking such but I grew up with PTA Mom’s so the idea of a “Dad” program was genius to me.
My day was laid out for me, they had a schedule and I wanted to share some of the highlights of my day:
To start the day I went to the front doors and greeted all the incoming students getting “parent dropped off”. First, OMG, I cannot believe how many parents drive their kids to school, those buses must be empty. Second, kids are very tired in the morning and not up for a friendly “Good Morning” from a strange man holding the door. What I did observe is that the younger the kids the more friendly. The older boys wouldn’t even acknowledge my existence at all, they were definitely too ‘cool’.
My first period was 5th Grade Science. I got a quick immersion course into Weathering, Erosion, Deposition. I then helped them come up with ideas for Ice, Rivers, Wind, Ocean and a few other weathering items and watched them attempt to draw the three stages of each. It is fairly interesting to watch them work in teams and come up with some really bizarre ideas, although most had the general concept. Their teacher was a cool dude playing some great Pandora radio while they worked.
After Science class I was on to 1st grade. Here I was a little more in my realm. I helped two children with their sight words and read books. This is in my realm of normal life as it is what I do with my son every night, it also allowed me to be proud that my Kindergarten son was better than these two boys with the same sight words, which I guess is sort of a sad on the inverse.
Next up was recess. It was 9:30am and recess time with my son’s class. Nothing too extreme, a lot of “Freeze” tag, which after running after kids for a few minutes had me purposely getting tagged so I could stop and relax. After recess I went back to Jack’s class and read the students a book. I’m not going to lie, I was scared. My wife tells me I am a boring reader and sometimes I struggle with reading to Jack, she keeps telling me I am Dyslexic, she’s wrong, I’m fine.
After my quick read of Abe Lincoln it was lunch. They eat at 10:30am; it is very weird for me, not to mention their food isn’t what I would call all that tasty. I told Jack I would eat whatever he picked, thankfully he picked the turkey sandwich as I don’t think I could have stomached the “ribs” which looked like a bad copy of the McRib. After lunch was another recess, this one was very different. The kids first decided that tackling me was more fun than tag and then when I got them to play a game they proceeded to spend 10 minutes fighting over which game. Some wanted Duck Duck Goose, some Hide-go-Seek but the majority wanted Plants vs Zombies. I had and still have no idea the point of this game and I spent 10 minutes trying to pretend that I knew what it was and that was fun.
My day really hit its stride when I went to 3rd Grade and got to spend time with a group of ‘advanced’ math kids doing conversions. I watched in awe as they did long division and multiplication without calculators. I just wanted to pull out my phone and help them get those yards to miles.
It was after 3rd grade that I got bored. Eating lunch at 10:30am really jacked with my mind, it was only 1pm and I felt like my day should be over but it was just halfway. I’m not going to lie, I thought about sneaking out to my car and taking a nap or doing some work but I could hear my wife yelling at me and instead took a 15 minute break in the teacher’s lounge, which was not at all how I pictured it as a child behind those magically secret frosted windows.
I had two periods left, 2nd grade and 4th grade. 2nd grade pretty much mirrored 1st grade, sight words and reading. However, it was interesting that the 1st graders tried very hard to get the words while these two 2nd graders would give up on first glance if they didn’t know the word. 4th grade was awful, I had 3 very bratty girls that wanted to hang out with the Watch DOG because it meant they were out of their classroom in the hall, they were also a bilingual class and spoke to each other in Spanish, presumably about me and probably not too positive.
In the end my day was great. The greatest part was the joy it gave Jack. He was so excited to have me at his school and tell all his friends that his Dad is the Watch DOG of the day. It was also very rewarding to give back to the school. I look forward to my next time, which is in April for now while my son lobbies hard to get me in there once a month until school is out.
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