Local dads are teaming up to connect with students at Rigby Middle School and Farnsworth Middle School.
Although Rigby Middle School had two gun related incidents within the last year, the new program known as Dads on Duty helps students feel safe, welcomed and connected.
The idea first came from a Louisiana high school last year. After repeated violence from students on campus, dads of students volunteered to walk the halls and befriend students.
Whitney Wagoner, the student safety coordinator for Jefferson School District, as well as local dad Scott Taylor, each stumbled upon an article about it, and felt it would make a difference at Rigby Middle School.
Wagoner says the goal is to create a stronger connection between the school and the home.
“With Dads on Duty, the overall goal is to have that transparency and that connection between the schools and the homes,” Wagoner said. “That way we have family members coming in who can then see what do their kids experience all day?”
Scott Taylor, the father of a 7th grade student, volunteers at least once a week with Dads on Duty, and says a lot of it is just being a friendly face.
“It’s just walking the halls and mingling with the kids and being as happy and cheerful as I can and I’ve noticed over time I know their names, they know me,” Taylor said.
Taylor says the pandemic and decrease in social interaction has made a big impact on the children, and this is a way of feeling more connected.
“I think with COVID people started introverting more and it really has put a huge impact on children and just really messed up a lot of them,” Taylor said. “And it’s forced me to get out there and you have to take that initiative and put yourself out there and it’s uncomfortable at first, but as you do it, it makes you feel good and connected and better.”
After just a month and a half of Dads on Duty, Wagoner already sees improvements in the students.
“I don’t see a lot of kids that sit by themselves anymore. I don’t see the misbehavior, or the rowdiness,” Wagoner said.
Taylor encourages anyone in the local area to participate.
“The greatest investment you can give is to invest in your children, or the children of the community and pay it forward. I know there’s a lot of dads working from home now, and they can do it,” Taylor said.
To stay up to date, visit the Rigby Middle School Facebook group.
To volunteer, contact Whitney Wagoner at 208-745-6674.