Everybody’s grandpa: Watch D.O.G. becomes a favorite at Rex Elementary

Bob Frazier, also known as Grandpa Bob, gets a hug from a trio of students at Rex Elementary School in Haysville. The volunteer has become something of a celebrity among the students.

By Michelle Leidy-Franklin

HAYSVILLE – Bob Frazier has become somewhat of a local celebrity at Rex Elementary School in Haysville.
Fondly referred to by students as Grandpa Bob, Frazier began volunteering for the Watch D.O.G.S program at the school after some prodding from computer technology teacher Kelly Kennedy.
“I grew up living next to him,” said Kennedy. “I thought he’d be a good person to help with the program. I nudged him a bit and that’s all it took.”
Watch D.O.G.S. is a national program that puts fathers and father figures from the community in schools to help volunteer time to guide students and provide extra security. Volunteers patrol hallways and parking lots, and assist students during class and lunch.
Frazier initially volunteered for one full day each week. When another volunteer could not make his scheduled day, Frazier jumped in and he realized he could dedicate more time to helping students.
He now is at the school three full days a week.
Frazier said he has seen the positive impact the Watch D.O.G.S. program has had on students.

Frazier fist bumps a student at Rex Elementary during a recent visit.

“I went in for one class and there was a young man in the corner refusing to participate,” said Frazier. “I sat with him and talked to him a bit and it turned out he was just having a really bad day. I helped him get back on track and his other teachers reported that he did well for the rest of the day.”
Frazier said he enjoys being able to help students. When teachers are busy with a room full of students, having the extra help with students who are having difficulties means those students are less likely to fall behind or get into trouble.
“They don’t want to disappoint him,” said Kennedy. “All he has to do is say he is disappointed in a kid’s behavior and you can tell that it has an impact. They appreciate having Grandpa Bob here.”
Tuesday through Thursday each week, Frazier can be seen walking down the school halls giving fist bumps and high fives to students. He hands out stickers and temporary tattoos and offers encouragement to students as he passes them between classrooms.
“He is one of the favorites,” said Kennedy. “Kids always ask me if Grandpa Bob is going to be here today.”
Frazier believes that the addition of father figures for students who may not have one at home is making a difference that can be seen.
“I sit in the lunch room each day that I’m here,” said Frazier. “One day, a student asked if he could sit with me and I said, ‘Sure!’ and soon there was a group of boys eating lunch with me. We chatted and had a great time. A teacher thanked me later telling me these were the boys most likely to cause issues in the lunch room. Just being there and listening, forming a relationship with these kids makes a difference.”
Watch D.O.G.S. volunteers are vetted and thorough background checks are conducted before they are permitted to work with children. Frazier comes from a law enforcement background and has a special needs son that lends to his skills working with children. His son also works for the school.
“This is my way of giving back to my community in retirement,” said Frazier. “I have the time that others don’t.”
Currently, Rex Elementary School is the only school in Haysville participating in the Watch D.O.G.S. program. When Kennedy was at Prairie Elementary over a decade ago, the school had the program. Freeman Elementary has participated in the past.
“My father was a Watch D.O.G.S. when I worked at Prairie,” said Kennedy. “He has been gone 14 years, but I really believe in this program.”
Kennedy and Frazier both hope to see more volunteers join the program and more participation from local schools. For now, Frazier plans to continue working with the kids as long as he can.
“They give me so much more that I give them,” said Frazier. “Just the smiles on their faces, and the fun I get to have with them, it makes it all worth it. Lord willing, I will be back next year.”
To volunteer, contact Kelly Kennedy or Matt Peschel by calling Rex Elementary at 316-554-2281.

Matt Peschel, “Grandpa Bob” Frazier and Kelly Kennedy head up a group of 15 volunteers for the Watch D.O.G.S. program, providing father figures and security for Rex Elementary School in Haysville.