STILLWATER — Some Will Rogers Elementary students are getting the chance to become better readers, all under the watchful paw of a therapy dog.
The elementary school started a partnership with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Friday as a way to improve reading comprehension and fluency.
“My kids love seeing the dogs,” said Danielle Magrini, who teaches math and reading to students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
Petey, a 4-year-old Shih Tzu and Maltese rescue, visited the school Friday.
“Research shows that a dog’s company is good for you,” Magrini said. “It helps with relieving stress.”
Volunteers are planning to bring therapy dogs to the school on Fridays the rest of the school year, Magrini said.
“We will use this to reward some students for their hard work,” Magrini said.
“I’m so proud of Mrs. Magrini and so many of our other staff members who are looking for innovative ways to make learning fun while connecting with their students,” said principal Susan Popplewell.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church started the Love on a Leash program in 2014, according to volunteer Kelsey Jarolim.
Jarolim, an Oklahoma State University student who has been a volunteer more than one year, said she enjoys visiting schools, nursing homes and retirement communities with therapy dogs.
“Everyone has a different story and different things going on in their life,” Jarolim said. “They (the dogs) are able to recognize that person’s story even without being able to talk to them. Dogs don’t judge and are able to bring comfort.”