Update from WJH, August 2020: “Despite multiple delays in acquiring a dog, West Junior High now welcomes Dani! Dani is a school resources dog whose mission is to support student learning activities, sensory processing, and social and emotional wellness. Dani has two years of service dog training through PawPADS, a service dog non-profit in Lakeville, MN. She has learned over 80 cues ranging from accessibility, sensory support, social/emotional support, and companionship. Her work will empower learners through inclusivity and kindness. Thanks to Hopkins Education Foundation, Dani will be joining West Junior High full-time when we return to school in person, and she can’t wait to meet all of our wonderful students!”
West Junior High is getting a new full-time staff member with four legs and a tail, who’ll be paid in kibble and hugs. This working Facility Dog will report every day to WJH and be scheduled in a variety of services and activities. Once the specific animal – and his WJH handlers – have been fully trained by PAWsitive Perspective Assistance Dogs (PawPADS) in Lakeville, MN, it will truly be a community dog promoting relationships with and between students, offering emotional support such as de-escalation, coping with daily stress, and processing emotions to succeed in school. Facility dogs are known to improve social-emotional skills, reduce dysregulation (increase time in the classroom). Periodic visits from similarly trained animals have already taken place in the building, and have proven a rousing success. This specific animal will permanently belong to the school, although he will go home each night with his human handler, after spending a long day spreading warmth and joy.
For those students with allergies, fear, religious restrictions, etc., there will be designated dog-free zones and those students will never be required to participate in any dog-related activities.
West Junior High
Submitters: Gillian McNeal, Corenne Larsen, Anamaria Washburn, Morgan McKindles, Adrienne Korsman