Introducing Serenity, Florence Roche’s Therapeutic Service Dog!
Having a therapeutic service dog as part of our school community will provide a PROACTIVE approach to addressing many academic challenges, as well as support the Social Emotional Learning need of all students. A therapeutic service dog is a creative and “out-of-the-box” way to foster and maintain a positive school culture, engage and challenge students as they learn, and foster self-esteem in order for students to succeed as they continue to develop into life long learners.
A Therapeutic Service Dog at Florence Roche Will Also…
*Foster and encourage empathy, respect, and responsibility towards self and others
*Encourage students to arrive to school on-time
*Support students who struggle with a variety of academic and/or social & emotional challenges
*Decrease anxiety in those who struggle with academic and social situations
*Support a continuing positive school culture and community
*Provide comfort and support for ALL Florence Roche students & staff
*Be utilized (when appropriate) in creative ways to support teaching and learning across all curriculum areas
Florence Roche Elementary School’s Therapeutic Service Dog – Questions & Answers
Q: Is it ok to pet Serenity?
A: Whenever you see a working service dog (wearing a service dog vest), it is always important to ask the handler first if it’s ok to pet their dog. It is up to the handler, and they may say yes or no based on the situation at that time. Students will be allowed to pet Serenity, however, please ask first.
Q: Can I feed Serenity or bring in dog treats for her?
A: No, thank you. Serenity is on a very special diet and may NOT eat table food and/or dog treats. She is given a portioned amount of dry kibble that she will be given as “rewards” throughout the day. Her weight is closely monitored and her diet is adjusted accordingly, as it is important to keep her in the best health possible so she can do her job effectively.
Q: What if there is a student who is allergic to dogs?
A: Most minor dog allergies can be controlled through diligent and thorough hand washing before, and after contact with Serenity. In the case of a more severe dog allergy, Serenity will avoid the classroom where the allergy is. Students from that classroom can come to Serenity’s classroom to visit.
Q: What if my child is afraid of dogs?
A: If the child is willing, he/she can be slowly introduced to Serenity on the child’s terms and level of comfort. Serenity is a tool, and will be utilized in a variety of ways. However, no child or staff member will be forced to be a part of the experience.
Q: How will Serenity be used in the school, and will my child be able to interact with her?
A: Serenity is specifically trained to work in a school environment in a variety of ways. She will be utilized to assist students in a proactive way, to manage appropriate behavior both in and out of the classroom. She may be used as a motivator for students who demonstrate appropriate social, emotional, and/or academic behaviors. She may be utilized when a student is feeling stressed, anxious, or is struggling emotionally. As this is a new approach for all of the staff at Florence Roche, please know that we will continuously work towards making sure that ALL students are able to experience Serenity in some way, if they like. We truly hope to make this as positive an experience as possible for all stakeholders (students, staff, parents). Please communicate any questions or concerns you may have to Brian O’Donoghue, Principal, or Jennifer Bent, Special Education Teacher.
Q: Will Serenity ever show aggressive behaviors towards others?
A: Serenity has gone through extensive training by the training staff at NEADS. Her training was specifically tailored to include behaving safely in a school and other public settings, as well as remain calm around large crowds, noise, and escalated behaviors. Additionally, Serenity will not be put in a situation that would be considered unsafe for students or herself. Mrs. Bent spent a week of intensive training with the training staff at NEADS, learning how to work with Serenity as her handler.
Q: Will Serenity be allowed to roam free throughout the school?
A: No. Serenity will be with Mrs. Bent or in the office, at all times. Serenity will be wearing her Service Dog vest, her Gentle Leader (not a muzzle), and will be on a leash. As students and Serenity become more comfortable with each other, she may be allowed to walk around the classroom (under Mrs. Bent’s close supervision.) Most of the time, you will find Serenity sleeping on a nice, comfy beanbag.
Q: Is Serenity up to date with her immunizations?
A: Yes. Serenity has received all required vaccines and has been issued a dog license through the Town of Amesbury.
We hope that having Serenity as part of our Florence Roche Community will be a positive experience for all. Please feel free to contact Mrs. Bent, Special Education Teacher or Brian O’Donoghue, Principal, with any questions or concerns that you may have. Thank you!
Therapeutic Service Dog Do’s and Don’ts
- Always ask permission to pet Serenity, (or any dog that you may see out in the community).
- Be patient as Serenity gets used to the school and routines.
- Please don’t distract Serenity in any way (whistling to her, calling her name, reaching out to pet her when you’re in line).
- Please don’t try to give any commands to Serenity, unless asked to do so by Mrs. Bent.
- When Serenity comes into your classroom, please try to remain focused on your work. She is a tool and should help you do your best work. She should not be a distraction!