Harrison’s Highlands Middle School could have a new administrative staff member by next week – one with four legs and a wet nose.
The school board is considering a proposal for a district therapy dog named Charlie, a 5-month-old Labrador Retriever.
Charlie belongs to Principal Becky Bragan.
“The goal we have at the college is to create a building environment that allows students to learn, grow and achieve,” Bragan said. “My goal for Charlie is to play a role in helping students in this environment and to branch out to help students in other buildings.”
Bragan and vice-principal Cory Sakolsky pitched the idea to the school board earlier this week.
The board is expected to vote on the proposal on Monday.
If approved, the goal is to use Charlie as a socialization catalyst for students, relieve anxiety, create a culture around positive behaviors and help teach social skills, self-esteem self and acceptance.
“We lost a lot of socializing during the pandemic,” Sakolsky said. “Charlie would be a great tool to help students and staff in times of stress.”
Bragan said much of the planning for this school year focused on climate, culture and learning outcomes for all students.
“The overarching goal will also be to make Charlie part of our team within the district,” Bragan said.
The pup would not walk the halls until its required training is complete.
He would take up to six weeks of obedience training and pass the Canine Good Citizen test before earning his Alliance of Therapy Dogs therapy dog status.
Bragan expects he can start acclimating to the building by January.
Designated volunteer staff would be part of Charlie’s handling team and would be with the dog during non-training times.
To appeal to anyone with a fear of dogs or with allergies, Charlie would be slowly introduced to students to give more anxious people more time to acclimatise.
The areas where Charlie goes will be disinfected.
Bragan said there will be times when Charlie will be banned for his own benefit. He will receive exercise, rest and water as needed each day.
Bringing Charlie onto the team would give students and staff an outlet, she said.
It would be used for one-on-one time with students, but also in group settings.
“Charlie will be a non-judgmental companion in their learning,” Bragan said. “He’s not going to wander the halls. He will work. »