Reading Therapy Dogs At york avenue elementary school

York Avenue Elementary School proudly welcomed a special furry guest on Thursday, March 9 as part of an innovative project spearheaded by ESL teacher Mrs. Stephanie Levitt which focuses on improving reading and social skills of students by incorporating the use of reading therapy dogs.

Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, York Avenue partnered with Therapy Dogs International and Alliance of Therapy Dogs to bring volunteers with their trained therapy dogs to the school. Mrs. Levitt had previously worked with therapy dogs and approached Principal Lori Hoch about bringing a such a program to their school. Following Mrs. Hoch’s approval, Mrs. Levitt worked to partner with the above agencies and develop an innovative program with the therapy dogs to the students at York Avenue.

“It started with just first grade and has expanded to include students in grades K-3. It’s an exciting time to be a student at York Ave!” -Stephanie Levitt

Once a week, students have the opportunity to read to a dog for a few minutes. The benefits for the children include relaxation and the ability to practice the skill of reading in a non-judgmental setting. Both organizations are recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and the dogs are certified by these organizations to receive the AKC Therapy Dog Title.

“Building self-esteem and associating reading with something pleasant are just some of the benefits of reading to therapy dogs,” Mrs. Levitt said. “Even children who have a fear of dogs have the opportunity to interact with them if they choose to, which helps give the children a better understanding of dogs.”

The North Penn School District would like to thank Stephanie Levitt for implementing this unique program to York Avenue Elementary School.

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