Abbot’s furry employee

Mishal Charania, Online Editor-in-chief

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Abbot Elementary wants to promote a calm learning environment in their school-so they got a dog. Abbot Elementary School’s principal Pam Sica worked with the Ann Arbor Public School’s Parent Teacher Organization(PTO) thrift shop to get a therapy dog named Star for the students. 

“We are just seeing more and more kids that have experienced trauma,” Sica said.“We are looking for additional ways to social and emotional learning in our school.” 

Sica connected with Brighton Public Schools because every school in their district has a therapy dog. Sica’s son goes to Brighton Public schools and she saw the impact that the dog had on him. She then realized that this is a program that she wanted to pursue at Abbot. 

“My son had talked about seeing this dog in his school,” Sica said.

Sica sent out information about the dog to parents on Nov. 6, and she has only gotten positive responses. She also got positive responses when she announced the program to her faculty. 

“At the very end of last year I told them that we were getting another employee next year 

who would be mainly to provide comfort and support, and then I put her picture up,” Sica said.“There was a very loud cheer from the room. There is so much support.” 

Star will have a bed in every classroom. Students will have an opportunity to opt-out of interacting with the dog if they feel uncomfortable or if they are allergic. 

“A good therapy dog is calm at all times,” Sica said.“Even if it sees kids who are upset, the dog won’t react.” 

Brighton Public Schools had an established breeder that worked with Ms. Sica to choose a dog that would be good with the kids. Star is currently being trained and won’t be interacting with the students until after winter break. 

“I’m hoping it will be a calming force,” Sica said.“There’s a lot of research behind the fact that animals provide a calm environment when they are trained to do so.” 

The PTO supported the idea of adding a therapy dog to Abbot wholeheartedly. Kim Lazaraz, a PTO member speaks about why she supported the idea. 

“The principal had put in so much work to create a sustainable program and we wanted to provide the training for the dog, which was the last thing missing,” Lazaraz said.“I think it is a wonderful idea. We need to do all we can to support our community and let them know that they are not alone.”