Therapy Dog Brings Smiles to Charles E. Walters Students

Therapy Dog Brings Smiles to CEW StudentsWearing her bright red Therapy Dogs International bandana, eight-year-old Stella listened attentively as students at Charles E. Walters Elementary School quietly read their favorite books. Stella and her owner, Karen Meier, are part of Therapy Dogs International, a volunteer group organized to provide qualified handlers and their therapy dogs for visitation to institutions, facilities, and schools.
As part of the school’s Reward Committee “Read to our Dog” program, students were able to earn Charles E. Change coins to purchase a coupon good for 10-minutes of reading time to Stella. Coins are distributed to students as part of the school’s Positive Behavior Intervention System (PBIS) where students are reinforced for showing examples of Respect, Integrity, Good Behavior, Helping Others, Teamwork (R.I.G.H.T).
“Stella is an ideal reading companion because she is such an attentive listener and has such a calming, gentle demeanor,” said Charles E. Walters Elementary School Library Media Specialist Diane Hall. “Reading aloud to Stella builds the student’s confidence. They also learn the value of saving up for something as they defer other purchases to save their coins for this larger priced coupon.”
The Therapy Dogs International program provides a relaxed and “dog-friendly” atmosphere, which allows students to practice the skill of reading. Therapy dogs create a stress-free learning environment where children feel encouraged and accepted, and with a sniff of the air and a wag of her tail, Stella accomplished just that.

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