Editor’s note: The following was submitted by Montclair School District.
Fridays have gotten furrier for Glenfield School students. Every week, therapy dogs visit Glenfield classrooms during 9th period as part of a new initiative launched last spring that is now in full swing. The brainchild of resource teacher Sarah Kornblum, the program began to take shape when she spoke with other teachers about how beneficial it would be to have therapy dogs in school to work with students.
Two faculty members at Glenfield already had their dogs certified with Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, so I got my two dogs certified there, and we began the program on a trial basis with our study skills classes,” explained Kornblum. All dogs must be certified to visit.
This year, they wanted to expand the therapy dog program to the entire school building and get dogs into more classrooms. Currently, there are seven dogs who visit different classrooms each week, including Kornblum’s pups and school secretary Trish Macaluso’s dog. Students are required to have permission slips signed to visit with the dogs. “We are still working out how to get all of the students involved who want to be involved, so it’s an evolving process,” Kornblum added.
They are also looking for ways to incorporate the therapy dogs into daily lessons and activities. “We have the cooking and sewing class making the therapy dogs treats and bandanas.”
Kornblum says the benefits of having therapy dogs in schools are numerous. “Some of these benefits include, but are not limited to: motivating students, build students’ self-esteem, confidence, and social skills, reduces stress, decreases anger and anxiety, teaches compassion, and encourages positive social behaviors,” she said. “It’s been really nice and provides good motivation for our students. The kids get super excited. They really like it and the dogs really like it too!”