A Doggone Wonderful Beginning!

IMG_1331What a fun and inspirational morning! Today was the launch of the pilot program, “How Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed In the Classroom” in five 2nd grade classrooms at Rio Vista Elementary School. The classrooms buzzed with excitement as the students walked in their rooms, noticing all of the new things that had “magically appeared” over the weekend. “Hey! All of the books that were on our shelves have changed, and they’re all DOG books!” said one little girl. An excited, high-pitched voice of another boy could be heard from across the room, “Hey that’s a board game about dogs! I want to play!” The teacher responded, “Well, we’re going to play that game together, as a class.” A collective “Ohhh!” rippled across the room.

As the students settled in, their teacher engaged them in a discussion about dogs, asking “What do you know about dogs?” A sea of hands shot up, ready to share stories and ideas. As I watched it all unfold around me, all I could think about was this: Today, one of my dreams is coming true. In just one morning, nearly 150 children learned how to meet a new dog safely and kindly. In only one morning, every single child was learning about what it meant to “adopt” and “foster” a little dog that needed love and companionship. And in only one morning, these children had learned 8 fun and effective reading strategies they could take with them on all of their reading adventures with their new puppy buddies. I’d say that was one productive morning.

And the icing on the cake? One little girl walked up to me with a smile in her eyes and said, sparkling, “Finally, I like school!” A very, very good morning indeed, and I am so deeply grateful. Thank you to the incredible teachers who are playfully and enthusiastically embracing and teaching this program with such professionalism and love. You make such a difference in the lives of your students, and they are so lucky to be in your classrooms! I’m already looking forward to next week.

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This little girl is holding her “Tricky Trouble Words” bookmark, which helps children learn strategies they can use when the come to a word they don’t know. These word study strategies are part of Lesson One in the program.

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This is a photo of the interactive wall game the class will play throughout the program to learn safe and kind ways to take care of and be around dogs. This teacher has also set up an adorable little dog house where the students’ stuffed buddies can rest when they need a break. 🙂 Just love it!