Love and Reading at Orchard Knob Elementary
Posted on 02/28/2024
Love and Reading at Orchard Knob ElementaryChattanooga, TN- Orchard Knob Elementary School (OKES), in collaboration with Love on a Leash, provides a heartwarming initiative that is bringing joy and learning together for its students. Love on a Leash, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading happiness through therapy animals, has joined forces with the school to introduce therapy dogs into the classroom environment.

Administrators and staff at the school met last May to brainstorm ways to create calming and enjoyable spaces for students in the 2023-2024 school year. The initiative kicked off in September, with therapy dogs making monthly visits to the school. The dogs engage with students from every grade, including alternative classrooms, providing a unique opportunity for children to practice their reading skills in a non-judgmental and supportive setting.

Lesley Schmidt, OKES Social Worker, highlighted the impact of the program, stating, “It’s great to see the students get excited about the dogs being here, but more importantly, it is heartwarming to see students who are normally averse to reading aloud opening up and reading to the dogs.”

The presence of these therapy dogs not only helps students improve their reading abilities but also promotes self-regulation, teaches empathy, and creates a sense of peace and comfort within the school community. Research has shown that interactions with animals can have a positive impact on children's learning experiences.

The therapy dogs are also used to comfort students who may need a little extra support during difficult times. One student stated, “I feel all the love in my heart,” after sitting with the dogs for comfort and security.

Through the participation of therapy dogs, Orchard Knob Elementary School is witnessing firsthand the transformative power of Love on a Leash's partnership in nurturing young minds.