Dads/Dudes on Duty

In an effort to provide positive adult male role models at school and to increase student safety, particularly before and after school, Salina Elementary School has implemented a Dads/Dudes on Duty Program.  With this goal in mind, Principal Kole Krahenbuhl sent a school wide text asking for volunteers to pilot the program.

“I figured let’s just give it a try! We only had about 5 weeks of school left, and I just thought we’ll see what kind of response we get. If it’s good, it will be something we will continue but if I don’t get anybody then – not,” he said.

The dads/grandpas/dudes are asked to come in the morning before school or after school, and they’re only there for 10-15 minutes; the first few minutes before the bell rings and then right after school. Krahenbuhl generated a check-in sheet that lists the locations he’d like covered, but they’ve really focused on the crosswalks as priorities.

“This morning, we had three dads, and I told them I’ll take as many as 6-8, but with their schedules they only come on days where it’s like hey I’ve got 10 minutes this morning and I’ll come down and do this,” he said. “They go out to the crosswalks and help be there as an extra set of eyes to keep our students safe.”

Multiple dads were already dropping off their kids for school, and it wasn’t a huge deal to stay. He said he was happy with the response they got but then wondered if the program is really doing what he was hoping it would do.

“There’s several layers to why we were doing it, and it’s been probably even better than anticipated,” said Krahenbuhl. “One of the things I was hoping for is a positive male presence in our school and positive male interactions as kids come in to school. There are some of our kids who can really benefit from that, and that’s been tremendous! The kids are probably more excited to see them now than they are us, because they see us all the time! There’s one kid that always throws the football to the dad, and he just throws it back as he heads into school. The southwest crosswalk we don’t usually have a crossing guard in the mornings, but these volunteers will walk right out to the middle of the road to stop the cars and help the kids cross safely. It’s been really, really great! It’s taken off!”

All the volunteers are either dads or grandpas of students in the school and he did have some moms jokingly ask if they needed to be a part of this, and he said moms do everything else and this is a great way to get the dads involved. He is so grateful for all that the moms do, and they love the mom support; for example, they’ve been there all week for teacher appreciation week, and they go above and beyond in every way possible. Dads are a little less able, typically, to stop their workday to come to school in the middle of the day, but local employers have been so supportive of the dads who show up 5 minutes late because they’re helping.

“I’d like to thank them directly,” said Krahenbuhl. “They’ve told their bosses, and their bosses have been so supportive and encouraging.”

The staff and teachers rotate cross walk duty before and after school on both the north and south entrances, and they are still out there- the dads are another set of eyes to watch for cars and help kids determine when it is safe to cross- the other layer of the program- student safety.

“We’ve had several near accidents and it’s purely just a blessing for us- everything aligning- that nothing serious has happened; our teacher cross crossing guards have literally been standing in the middle of the crosswalk with their orange vest on and the stop sign up, and cars don’t even tap the brakes, just blow on past. I mean, they’ve been so close the teachers could literally touch the car,” said Krahenbuhl. “The first day of school, Resource Officer Greg Harwood usually manages this front crosswalk the first day of school, and this one car wasn’t going to stop! Greg yelled at him right as they were coming through the crosswalk! That was the first day of school!”

He said the teachers who man the crosswalks are so appreciative and grateful for this newly implemented program of Dads/Dudes on Duty, and they never want to see it go away. It’s been a huge help to them and a great asset to the school and community.  Though there have always been safety concerns with drivers not paying attention in the school zone, this year it has grown exponentially worse.

“Distracted drivers and driving too quickly down the street- it’s pretty alarming,” said Krahenbuhl. “We have had too many, too many close calls, and too many situations! I hope we can help raise awareness and get some more support for this program. And aside from that, just the interaction. That’s so fun to watch!”

There isn’t a set schedule, dads and grandpas are asked to stop by the school and introduce themselves to Krahenbuhl and he will explain it from there. If they can do it on Monday this week and Thursday the next week, it’s totally all right, he’s so grateful for the support. Sometimes there are 4-5 dudes there, sometimes none, and he’s hoping to expand his already amazing pool of 15-20 volunteers.

“With all this, we’re just trying to focus on the positive to just remind people- hey we have 6-year-old kids here so it’s just really important to slow down,” said Krahenbuhl.

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Lora Fielding

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