Paws and Pages literacy dogs help students improve reading skills

Dogs provide calming presence while students tackle tough assignments

By Bridgett Ellison - Anchor

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - There's a new program in one Seminole County school that's as cute as it is effective in getting results in our schools.

The Paws and Pages program is helping students improve their reading skills by bringing in specially trained literacy dogs.

Tuskawilla Middle School teacher Megan Reed came up with the idea as part of her mission to make her intensive reading class more exciting and inviting. She said it's already getting results. 

"I have seen some pretty good improvements with their fluency and comprehension and hopefully that will be reflected with their testing and student achievement scores," Reed said.

Cody, a former rescue dog turned literacy dog, is one of six literacy dogs that visits weekly to brighten the day for students in the intensive reading class. 

"He's (Cody) like a little rock star. You can see his ears perk up. He smiles," Lisa Dreasher, an officer helper, said.

"It's really exciting to just see them smile when they walk into the classroom," Reed said.

Dogs like Cody provide a calming presence while students tackle challenging reading assignments.

Students say the best part is knowing Cody will sit and listen to them read without judging and that gives them a confidence boost to keep working on their reading skills.

"I've improved. I have less stuttering and I'm more focused," Baylee Victor, a seventh-grade student, said. 

"He helps me a lot, honestly. He makes me feel a lot safer. If I mess up on words, he makes me feel like it's OK, " Jacob Perez, another seventh-grader, said. 

Tuskawilla Middle School is the first school to use literacy dogs from the Angel Paws to Read program, which originally started by bringing dogs to libraries around the Orlando area. For more information, click here.

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