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Center, MO: Elem school adds therapy dog, "reset and restore classroom"

Aug 19, 2022, Hannibal [MO] Courier Post: Meet Aurora: The new therapy dog at Ralls County Elementary

CENTER, Mo. — When the new year begins at Ralls County Elementary next week, there will be one new employee especially excited to greet students.

Her name is Aurora and she is an almost 2-year-old English lab. Aurora started her position as a therapy dog at the school last Monday.

Her handler Molly Williams, a special education teacher at Ralls County Elementary, welcomed Aurora into her home last weekend and she said it is the dog’s first stable home after a lifetime of training….

Williams and another staff member at the school traveled six hours to Concordia, Kansas, and underwent a week of training before bringing the dog home. Aurora came from CARES, Inc., a company that rescues and breeds dogs then trains them in therapy and services dogs.

It was a two-year waiting list, which is a longer-than-normal list due to COVID shutdowns, and they were finally notified earlier this summer that the wait was over.

Aurora came at the perfect time, as the school is starting a RISE program which stands for Resource, Intervention, and Special Education. The program will include a reset and restore classroom for students to go to if they need to calm down where they will also find strategies to calm down on their own.

“Once they can figure out what kind of emotion they are feeling and they are calmed down — or reset — then I give them strategies to make up for what mistake they have made,” she said. “Aurora is one of our coping strategies.”

Aurora will also be a regular part of the special education classroom, which is where she will start her day.

“Some of the children need extra social and emotional learning, so I might pull them for reading, writing and math and she will just sit beside them. They can read to her,” said Williams. “She is the extra support that they need.”…

Williams said that Aurora is a therapy dog rather than a service dog….

Molly Williams poses with Aurora, the new therapy dog at Ralls County Elementary. Williams is a special education teacher at the school who picked up Aurora from Concordia, Kansas, where the school was on a waiting list for a therapy dog for two years.



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