Luna’s continued journey…

It’s been awhile!  Luna and I have been really busy with the beginning of the school year and it has been so much fun!  We’ve been working hard at school teaching students social skills, compassion and empathy, along with calming students when they are feeling upset or frustrated.

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We had a FABULOUS “Book Character day!” Luna and I were dressed up as Dorothy and Toto and Anne was our Courageous Lion…the kids LOVED it.  One of my favorite days of teaching so far this year.  I feel like these are the moments kids remember about elementary school the most.  I will say it took me by surprise that quite a few kids didn’t know who Dorothy and Toto are though.  YIKES I feel old!  😉

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It’s common to have students who start out with a rough day and it can continue on and interrupt their ability to learn all day long.  At Hough, we work hard on building relationships with all students.  In doing so it’s easier to get on the kids level and help them in their tough moments.  However, when a child is really escalated or upset even a preferred adult might not do the trick.  We’ve run into this problem over and over again.  It’s been much easier with Luna on staff.  Kids have NO problem relating with a puppy!  She can have a kid go from “having a bad day” or “I hate my life” to giggling in about 10 minutes.  It’s remarkable to watch.  When this happens kids can go back to learning and forget about their woes for a while.  It may take some extra breaks intermittently throughout the day but ultimately it works.  I think Luna may have MAGICAL powers.  😉

We get to show Vancouver Public Schools the power of Luna on November 28th at the school board meeting.  They wrote an article about Luna as well and it is so fun to see and hear other schools wanting to do this in their own schools.  I honestly believe EVERY school needs a therapy dog. She is changing lives and making school a place where kids want to be and can learn.  Not only learn their academics but also learn how to be the best person they can be as a whole child.  I could not be more proud of the Hough staff and what we do to help support kids.

Until next time,

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Mrs. Cantwell

Luna’s in Love with Hough

It was ridiculously hot at Hough this past week but Luna still loved every second of it!  I think last weekend she was sad and moped around the house because I didn’t bring her to school.  I thought she might have been sick or something with how she was acting but as it turns out she was just bored and missing her “kids”.  Luna has really started taking her responsibilities at Hough seriously.  We were able to visit nearly every classroom this week.  I had some really high hopes for her in at Hough, however, I sort of assumed it would take a little longer to see her full benefit.  She’s still such a puppy that I didn’t know what she would do when faced with the reality of a child in crisis who really needed her or groups of children swarming her.  Turns out, it doesn’t matter how old she is, she’s fully capable and ready to take on those challenges.

Two big success stories from this past week that are totally worth sharing.  I was so very proud of Luna on Tuesday.  Her day started with responding to a child in full crisis from a panic attack.  I’ve been working with this student for nearly a year and her panic attacks can last anywhere from 1.5-4 hours.  They are all-encompassing, loud, and exhausting.  I got a call that she was having one in the office so Luna and I went down to help respond.  The little girl was reluctant to have Luna help her at first and I wasn’t sure how Luna would handle the screaming and banging noises.  Luna didn’t flinch as I brought her into the office with me and sat down.  The little girl came and sat with us after a few minute and was completely calm and ready for me to leave in 10 minutes.  I have never really seen anything like it.  The little girl was so proud of herself for calming down so quickly and she was able to hang around with Luna and I for most of the morning but returned to class and finished her day in her classroom.  I was shocked!

Success story number two!  Hough has a self-contained classroom for children with significant behavioral disabilities.  This classroom has LOVED accessing Luna as a reward for good behavior.  When I was walking by with Luna as they were getting ready to start their day I told the teacher if he wanted Luna could do a greeting to them if they walked quietly and sat nicely in their desks to start the day.  The entire group of kids did just that and all got to start their day with a greeting and snuggle from Luna.  Later that day the kids who were still on best behavior got another chance to hang out with Luna.   When I talked to the teacher as the day ended he said it was one of their best days yet!

This girl is already making great waves at Hough and her benefit is being seen building wide.  I’m so proud of her and what she has been able to accomplish in just seven days of school.  Like I said, I had high hopes for her, but I never anticipated this kind of positive impact so early!  She is truly a blessing Hough Elementary School.

 

Until next time,

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Mrs. Cantwell

Luna’s first week!

Oh my gosh!  We did it!  We survived the first week of school! 🙂  This is typically a challenging week for teachers and students alike to adjust to new schedules and routines.  Well, we threw in an extra curveball and added a dog to the mix – why not! Ha!  Luna did FABULOUS at her “new job” this week. Actually, I have realized that I would love to be a therapy dog at a school for my next job.  Luna gets cared for and everyone enjoys her company all day and then takes naps in her down time.  What a fabulous life!

The first day of school we were able to be out in the front of the building meeting and greeting all our little Hough Hawks.  Luna loved every minute of it until the very large, noisy, yellow thing pulled up and let a herd of kids out.  The bus was quite frightening so she wanted to avoid it at all cost!  We backed away from the bus drop off area though, and were able to gain our composure back and continue with our morning greetings. Phew!

We were able to show her off at our beginning of the school year assembly and the kids responded really well.  We have a few rules around asking before petting and making sure Luna and I are not “on a mission” somewhere and nearly every child has been very respectful and responsible with those rules.

In all honesty, I didn’t know what to expect with Luna the first week.  I didn’t know if she would need to go home mid-day, be anxious around so many kids or have a hard time settling down.  It was all a mystery.  She blew me away with her ability to really do her job in the face of a crazy first day of school.  She has already helped some scared kindergarteners feel more comfortable entering the classroom, helped a kiddo who lost his great-grandpa this week and has been introduced to four classrooms full of students. (More on this experience in the next blog post!)  We are really looking forward to getting into more classrooms this week.

Things students have said so far:

“I’m so glad we have a dog at Hough, it makes it easier for me to leave my puppy at home”

“Luna really does make me feel better!”

“Can Luna come check on me in a little bit?”

“We are so lucky to have a dog at school!”

“I’m so glad I go to Hough, we get to pet a dog!”

“I’m glad I get one more year at Hough so I can see Luna.”

Overall, the impact Luna has shown over just three days alone is priceless.  She brings a special kind of “ju-ju” to Hough and I have a feeling this may be our best year yet!!

 

Until next time,

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Mrs. Cantwell