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Falmouth, MA: Therapy dog helps students "calm themselves/refocus"

May 24, 2019, Falmouth (MA) Enterprise: Classroom Assistance Dog Brings Canine Calm To Morse Pond Students Two-year-old Cooper—a black Labrador retriever who often wears a red vest—is a four-legged, furry celebrity at Morse Pond School. His popularity in the school is partly because of his cuteness and calm demeanor, but his work as a classroom assistance dog is what makes his role so important to students and staff…. In introducing Cooper and Ms. Sykes, Morse Pond Principal Kathleen M. Riordan said the school’s goal is “to support social-emotional learning and to have children learn at deep levels,” while recognizing that there are sometimes circumstances at school and at home that can prohibit learning. … Students who arrive at the school early, many of whom are in special education programs, might sit in the cafeteria not speaking to anyone, but they want to come over and talk to Cooper, Ms. Sykes said. “He’s trained almost like a therapy dog. He works in a clinical environment, my office, working on certain goals that I have for my students, whether it’s frustration tolerance or more interpersonal communication skills, as well as their overall well-being and happiness,” she said. Students who are struggling to focus, feeling anxious or overwhelmed, or experiencing emotions and behaviors that make it difficult to learn, will be able to use the therapy dog visits to calm themselves and refocus, allowing them to return to class….


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