• Jason Lee welcomes fathers, grandfathers and uncles for unique event

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     Jason Lee families

    Fathers and other male family members gathered with their season at Jason Lee's annual WatchDOGS event.

    More than 150 family members, mostly male, turned out for a unique event at Jason Lee Elementary School last week. The school’s annual WatchDOGS (Dads of Great Students) event aims to bring in fathers, grandparents, uncles and other family members for an evening of pizza, games and bonding.

    “It’s just a great positive adult connection on campus, and it’s really helped out with our climate and culture at Jason Lee,” said Blake Robertson, assistant principal.

    The event, which was started by teacher Susan Hill, has become an annual early-year highlight at the school. It has grown steadily, with about 50 families participating early on, to 124 families last year, and 150 this year.

    “For a K-5 school, that’s a pretty massive turnout,” Robertson said.

    WatchDOGS is a national program that helps schools create events and offers merchandise and planning help. Although it is aimed at male family members, all family members are welcome to Jason Lee’s version, and several mothers attended last week.

    Jason Lee tailors its version to fit its core values of being safe, respectful and responsible, and to its focus on family engagement and the school community’s culture. Last week’s event, for example, included Spanish and Vietnamese interpreters, and school staff reached out to families in multiple ways to make sure they were aware of the event.

    The event also served as a recruiting tool to invite parents to volunteer at school, and last week’s effort produced more than 30 signups for shifts in classrooms, the lunchroom and recess. Those shifts go until February, when the school will hold a similar event, Desserts with Dads.