CABOT — While elementary schools are filled with students’ conversations and laughter, the hallways of Cabot Middle School North in the mornings are full of the joy and enthusiasm of Damon Bivins.
Bivins is one of the volunteers involved with the Cabot School District’s Hallway Heroes program. The program was previously known as Watchdog Dads, but Bivins said others expressed interest in volunteering with the school.
Now the program isn’t limited to dads — any adult 19 and older can volunteer at the schools to positively influence students.
“I [volunteer for] an hour every morning,” Bivins said.
He explained that he has a lot of energy and helps students who arrive at the school every morning by opening car doors and encouraging them as they start their day.
“I’ll tell them, ‘You look awesome today,’” Bivins said.
In addition to starting the students’ days with words of encouragement, Bivins never hesitates to mentor students on how to be respectful.
“I’ll tell the boys to open the doors for the girls,” he said. “Then I’ll tell them thank you for doing it.”
Little words and lessons of encouragement do a lot of good for the students at the schools Bivins visits on a regular basis, he said.
He spends his mornings at Cabot Middle School North but visits all of the schools throughout the year to offer words of encouragement.
He’s been involved with Watchdog Dads/Hallway Heroes for eight years.
“I changed careers, and I got to take the kids to school,” Bivins said. He has two children in the Cabot School District.
When he got to the school, he said, he noticed that the method of dropping off children at the school in the mornings was somewhat unorganized. This offered him a chance to impact the school by greeting children as they get out of their parents’ cars.
“I got involved and became friends with the superintendent,” he said. “The schools then used me to do what I can for them. It’s small, but it makes a big difference.”
His aim is to get more parents involved with the Hallway Heroes program.
“You get so much joy from this,” Bivins said. “I don’t need to drink coffee anymore.”
Bivins’ job with Centennial
Bank in Cabot allows him to volunteer his time to the students of the community. He’s a business development officer for the Cabot region of Centennial Bank.
“I go to two to three schools a week to mentor students,” he said. “I’m lucky that the bank lets me do this.”
The happiness he receives and gives to students is what keeps him coming back each day.
“When you get a smile from a child — they mean it. They can’t fake it,” he said.”[Hallway Heroes] allows a kid to know he can come to school and be noticed. We’ve got to take care of [the students].”
Bivins’ commitment to the community and its schools has not gone unnoticed. He and his wife were named the 2009 Volunteer Parents of the Year for the state of Arkansas.
“It’s about service. I would like to do more,” Bivins said. “I want to help more schools.”
He has had the opportunity to meet other parents through the Hallway Heroes program, and adding more volunteers will allow more students to be positively impacted on a daily basis.
An informational meeting for anyone interested in becoming a Hallway Hero will be held Oct. 14. Volunteers must pass federal and Arkansas State Police background checks before becoming an approved volunteer and must follow district and building-level policies and procedures at all times.
“I’m not going to get out of this — it’s fun,” Bivins said.