Blythewood, SC (WLTX) -- Summer vacation is just around the corner for students, but one Lake Carolina Elementary Lower School teacher continues to focus on new ways to strengthen her students' experiences in the classroom.
After hearing about the success Lonnie B. Elementary has had with a trained facility dog, Susan Woodley thought it would benefit her preschool students, who have autism.
"Some of my kids are nonverbal, some use talking cards, some use sign language and some do talk," said Woodley.
After going through the interview process, home visits, and spending a week at Palmetto Animal Assisted Life Services (PAALS) training school, Woodley was certified to bring a trained facility dog into her classroom.
Ross is a two-year-old black Labrador retriever and he's been in the classroom since the beginning of May. Woodley has slowly integrated him into the classroom while he continues to learn his job.
"My original idea was for him to retrieve the 'my turn' card from the kid, but it was overwhelming in a small area. So we went to the kids coming to him one at a time and he's taken well to it," she said.
Ross has only been in the classroom for a few weeks, but she has already seen an improvement in her students' motivation to communicate and participate throughout the day.
"He walks around, checking on their work, and the students want to have that folder done before he gets back around to see if they did their work," said Woodley. "They'd rather work for him than me any day, which I'll take it."
The school year is coming to an end for Woodley's preschool class, but Ross' job is just beginning.
"We're just touching the tip of the iceberg with what he can bring to the school."
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