Therapy dog joins staff at a Charleston elementary school

There's a new staff member at a Heartland Elementary school and she's got four legs
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 4:03 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2023 at 5:20 PM CDT
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CHARLESTON, Mo. (KFVS) - There’s a new staff member at a Heartland Elementary school and she’s got four legs.

The therapy dog is getting good grades from both teachers and students.

Georgia is the newest face walking around Warren E. Hearnes Elementary School.

“I read to Georgia,” Poppy Cain said.

Students like Poppy get to read their favorite books to their new furry friend; and Principal Amy Smotherman said that’s what they’re most excited about.

”They’re less judgmental and kids don’t have to worry about being a struggling reader they just get to enjoy reading to the dog,” Smotherman said.

And when the students read, the standard poodle is all ears.

“We want to use Georgia to motivate our kids to want to read more,” the principal said.

”As soon as she walked in, I saw lots of smiles lots of excitement,” Preschool teacher Amanda Cain said.

On Thursday, Cain welcomed Georgia for story time in her classroom.

“They were really attentive to the story and listened really well,” she said. “We were like, ‘wow, we need Georgia to come a lot of times to our classroom,’” Cain said.

Having Georgia join them makes learning more fun.

“When you bring even more excitement to the classroom,” Cain said.

“It makes for a positive learning environment for our kids, it makes them excited to be at school,” Smotherman said. “And the more excited they are to be here the more eager they are to learn.”

Long-term, the educators hope Georgia will help students be more comfortable in the classroom and improve social development skills.

“Giving them this opportunity is just really exciting to see,” Smotherman said.

It took no time at all for Georgia to become their new best friend.

”I love Georgia,” Poppy said.

It took a little over a year for Georgia to get into the school. She spent that time taking all of the classes and tests to become a certified therapy dog.