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Windsor Elementary Students Learn Alongside Canine Teachers

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WINDSOR, N.Y. -

A.F. Palmer Elementary School in Windsor has a reading program for students where the teachers have four legs and a great sense of smell.

The canine teachers, Riley and Gracie, are part of the R.E.A.D. program, or Reading Education Assistance Dogs. The program helps students with the stresses that come with growing up and learning how to read and write.

“I thought how neat would it be to have a puppy grown and learn right along with our children.” - Rhonda Ashley, AIS Service Provider at A.F. Palmer

Students set goals and get to spend time with Riley and Gracie after achieving their milestones.

Riley the black Labrador retriever has been growing up with students since she was 9 weeks old. The program was a hit and Gracie the yellow lab joined the school two years later.

“The students that struggle with impulse control sometimes are the ones that approach the dogs calmly, and are soft-spoken, and they ask Miss. Ashley if they’re allowed to pet the dog. So to be able to control and have that self-control has been amazing to see in the students.” - Sandra Romano, A.F. Palmer School Counselor

“I would encourage anyone if they’re approached, any fellow administrator about a program like this, to wholeheartedly endorse it and embrace it. It translates into great things for kids.” - Jamie Bernard, A.F. Palmer Elementary Principal

Three times a week you can find the elementary students reading to Riley and Gracie at the library.