“I have a little puppy. He is super lucky.” That’s part of a rhyme second grade student Elaina Hamm read to special guests in her classroom at Dayton Elementary School. The guests were Tate, Pepper and Nacho, active or retired service dogs who were there to listen to the young authors.
Aspen Kitchell teaches several writing units throughout the year culminating with a writing celebration, “Puppies and Poetry.” The students sit in a circle around each dog and take turns reading from their poetry collections.
“Writing is a tough subject, especially for students who may not have mastered all the fundamentals of language conventions,” says Kitchell. “We like to have writing celebrations for the students so that they can celebrate their growth and have fun.”
“It warmed my heart to see Tate interacting with children for the first time off harness,” says Kathy Nimmer, instructional coach and director of SEEDS (Supporting Educators Entering District Service). “I am not sure who enjoyed the poems more, the humans or the canines, because so many of the students’ pieces were about dogs.”
Nimmer’s new guide dog Tate didn’t even mind when student Ruby Huffer changed the subject to cats: “I have a cat. She is fat. I like her like that.”