A furry, four-legged staff member is roaming the halls of Hambright Elementary School for the 2019-2020 school year, thanks, in part, to the Penn Manor Education Foundation.
The Foundation awarded a $3,000 grant to provide training for Sawyer, a labradoodle therapy dog who will spend his days providing comfort to students and staff at the school.
In 2017, the Foundation awarded a similar grant to help train Wrangler, another labradoodle assigned to Manor Middle School.
Both dogs received extensive training from United Disabilities Services, so they respond only to their handlers and are comfortable in almost any situation.
At Manor, Wrangler greets students in the morning and visits classrooms to help calm students experiencing anxiety, anger and other emotional challenges throughout the day.
“His ongoing daily support is nothing short of fantastic,” said Dana Edwards, principal of Manor Middle School.
Sawyer will serve a similar role at Hambright.
He will spend time in all of the classrooms of the teachers who have been trained to handle him. He also will be used as needed with individual students and small groups.
“He loves being read to, so he will be a perfect addition to any primary classroom where students are learning to read,” said Hambright assistant principal Melissa Mealy, who owns Sawyer.
“Research shows that the presence of animals can reduce stress, increase empathy and help with mental health,” she said. “We hope that Sawyer can do all of these in our building by forming relationships with students and staff.”
“We know that our students will really benefit from having an animal in the building, and we are so happy that we were able to make that happen,” Mealy said.