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Volunteer father figures adding door checks to their duties in Katy ISD

The father figure volunteers are similar to groups in many districts that provide an extra set of eyes and ears while building relationships.

KATY, Texas — Well-known powerlifter James Strickland might look intimidating.

“I’m the third heaviest bench press of all time,” Strickland said.

But the Katy ISD dad is a softie when it comes to his kids and their classmates.

"Male engagement programs have been around for a while," he said. "I just championed it here in Katy.”

He’s part of a group at Amy Campbell Elementary called the “Watch DOGS” or “Dad Of Great Students.”

They're volunteers who work to be positive male role models while providing an extra set of eyes and ears to enhance school safety.

"Basically, every one of those spots is a dad and one child they come up for,” Strickland said as he pointed to a bulletin board where names will be placed.

RELATED: Back-to-school survey for parents: What are your questions/concerns?

Right now, Watch DOGS, or similar programs, are in about 50 Katy ISD schools which is a majority of campuses.

Volunteer Gary Aston said making connections with kids is the reason he keeps coming back to his daughter’s school, Bethke Elementary.

"Most all students recognize when a Watch DOGS in the room, in the hallway, on campus," Aston said. "And you get more smiles, more high fives, a lot of neat involvement. It’s unique.”

RELATED: What does a safe school look like?

Watch DOGS are also known by other names depending on the campus and may include grandfathers, uncles, or any other father figure as well.

All of them must pass a more rigorous background check like all other volunteers as of this year.

"You feel really, really good about yourself being a servant of the school and giving back and volunteering your time,” Strickland said.

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