Middle Tennessee district has therapy dogs in all schools

Franklin Special School District schools have nine unique teachers whose goal is to help make each day a little brighter for students and teachers.

It all started in 2019 when Labradoodle therapy dog ​​Mattie Grace first entered Johnson Elementary. At that time, Franklin educators said they could never have imagined the district would expand to include therapy dogs in all schools, but today it’s a reality.

The district first received Mattie Grace as a gift from a rancher in East Tennessee. Since then, dogs have been donated, donated and rescued from shelters.

The nonprofit Nashville Retrieving Independence provided the majority of the district’s dogs, officials said, noting that the animals do not meet the strict criteria required for service dogs but can be certified as therapy dogs . They vary in breeds and sizes and must have the required certification.

“The plan was so successful that we decided to implement the program in all of our schools,” said Schools Superintendent David Snowden, adding that he planned to have one dog per year, but the Mattie Grace’s impact at Johnson Elementary School forced them to fast. -follow the timeline.

Since the program began, dogs have helped students and staff with a multitude of different problems. They stopped anxiety attacks and served as a constant source of calm in what can be a distressing place, officials say.

Each school has its own program, in which dogs may move from room to room or be stationed in one area, such as a library. At the end of each day, the dogs return home with their owners.

“I think the students really love dogs and take ownership of them,” Snowden said. “Students read to the dogs, take them to the bathroom and can earn some quality time with them. The other thing we discovered is how much therapy they actually provide for adults.

“They are not miracle workers. They are just another tool in the toolbox to help children in any way possible.

Mattie Grace officially…

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