By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
7:52 PM EST, February 5, 2013
Jodi Westrope says she doesn’t know what she is going to do after her two children graduate from high school.
Westrope, who has been recognized more than once by the Berkeley County Board of Education for her volunteerism in the school district, is involved in a number of school initiatives, including the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program that she coordinates.
First launched at Berkeley Heights Elementary School with another parent about eight years ago, the Watch D.O.G.S. program provides an opportunity for fathers or father figures to take an active part in their child’s life within the school environment.
The program has since expanded to seven other Berkeley County schools and Westrope said she would like to soon launch it at the high school level.
“My goal is to have it in all the schools in Berkeley County,” Westrope said recently.
Inspired by a school shooting in Jonesboro, Ark., in 1998, Watch D.O.G.S. now is in 44 states with more than 2,600 active programs, according to the National Center for Fathering, which launched the initiative.
“Is it going to stop everything that happens in the schools? No, but is it going to help? ... I think it helps greatly,” Westrope said.
“I know the dads enjoy it.”
Westrope said a “Dads and Donuts” event is slated for later this month to thank those who have volunteered their time and came to school to take part in the program.
The visiting fathers and father figures provide another “set of eyes” at the school, but also are able to have lunch and stay for recess with their child, according to Westrope.
“It’s an excellent program, it means a lot to me,” Westrope said.
In addition to Watch D.O.G.S., Westrope volunteers her time with the Local Schools Improvement Council and mentors students as a PASS volunteer, among numerous other activities.
Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said the school district would like to keep Westrope as a parent volunteer, even after her children graduate.
“Any task she is involved in is highly organized and is implemented to perfection,” Arvon said.
“She’s absolutely amazing.”
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