Literacy & Leashes

ETSD Therapy Dog Program

Evesham Township School District
 implements a therapy dog program called Literacy and Leashes at each of the elementary schools. Each school has their very own dog and handler assigned to the building who works directly with the second grade students during their reading time. The district partners with Kalli at Beeler, Isaac at DES, Valerie at Jaggard, Gage at MES, Indy at Rice, and Libby at Van Zant. The goal of this program is to build confidence and strengthen literacy skills in our students with these very special reading companions. All dogs used in the program are registered therapy dogs with volunteer handlers that have been approved through the ETSD as per board policy.

The program typically begins annually in late September/October and lasts the duration of the school year. School and classroom expectations are part of the district’s second grade Health and RC Connections Curriculum. The trained handlers and their dog are volunteers and are in the schools approximately one hour per week. They rotate through each of the second grade classrooms so that students can expect a visit from the school’s assigned therapy dog a minimum of once a month.  Due to the pandemic, the program was temporarily on hold to start the 2020-2021 school; however, will be initiated in the spring.

In addition to working with second graders, during a typical year, the therapy dogs attend designated district and school-level events such as District Wellness Night in March and Summer Literacy Events at each of the schools.  A whole school meeting is held annually at each school in the fall to review behavior expectations with all staff and students within the building. This whole school meeting is led by the second grade students and aims to provide the entire school community an opportunity to connect with the building's handler and therapy dog. 

Beeler students with KalliDES students with IsaacJaggard students with ValerieMES students with GageRice students with IndyVan Zant student with Libby
Middle School Program

The program was extended to middle school in the 2019-2020 school year.  Isaac and Ollie now annually work with middle school students, whether reading or working on a project, in each of the library-media centers approximately three times a month.

The program is currently on hold due to the pandemic.
Isaac with DeMasi Middle studentsOllie with Marlton Middle students
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