A School's Best Friend

Absecon officials present on Therapy Dogs at NJSBA Workshop 2022
Posted on 11/03/2022
Dooley, Reed and Carver with Skye and Hope at the NJSBA Workshop 22.

Leaders from Absecon Public Schools were honored to share the ins and outs of bringing therapy dogs to a school district as presenters during the New Jersey School Board Association Workshop 2022 at the Atlantic City Convention Center recently.

On Tuesday, Oct. 25, Superintendent Dr. Daniel Dooley, Director of Curriculum and Special Education Lindsay Reed, and Attales Counselor Jessica Carver presented “A School’s Best Friend,” which drew a healthy crowd of more than 70 attendees. 

“Having the opportunity to share information on the benefits of therapy dogs in the classroom to school and education leaders from around the state is a really significant achievement. We are able to communicate on a statewide platform what we have learned as educators in terms of the benefits of therapy dogs, as well as the logistics of bringing such a program to a district,” Dr. Dooley said. “We hope this presentation helps to bring more awareness and more therapy pet programs to schools throughout New Jersey.”

Therapy dogs are defined as pets that have been evaluated on their ability to safely interact with a wide range of populations to provide physical, psychological, and emotional benefits to those they interact with. Their handlers are trained in best practices to ensure effective interactions that support animal welfare.

The benefits of using therapy dogs in educational settings are well researched, from improving social skills and educational attainment in a student, to aiding in emotional regulation. This is why school leaders in Absecon were not surprised when they began to see the same outcomes in students after introducing Dr. Dooley’s certified therapy dogs, Skye and Hope, to the district a few years ago.

The New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) presentation included information on these benefits and also addressed the process of having dogs and handlers trained, insurance requirements and community buy-in. Skye and Hope were on hand for the presentation and also very popular among attendees.

Since October 2018, over 50 New Jersey districts have partnered with Absecon Public Schools to learn how to implement their own programs. In addition, we have received inquiries from schools in PA, NY, AR, and the UK.

In addition to his role as Superintendent, Dr. Dooley serves as Chairman of the Association of Animal-Assisted Intervention Professionals (AAAIP). His Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Skye, 7,  and Hope, 6, hold several AKC Therapy Dog titles and have combined more than 1300 therapy dog visits to schools, universities, hospitals and libraries.

To learn more about therapy pets, visit aaaiponline.org.

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