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home : features : schools & education December 17, 2014


1/15/2014 8:12:00 AM
Pets + kids = daily experience at Coyote Springs
Kaya, front left, sprawls in front of her “classmates” on a recent Friday visit to Coyote Springs Elementary School. Kaya and Dewey, the library cat, help students deal with difficulties, and students can spend time with the animals as a reward for making good choices.
Courtesy Photo
Kaya, front left, sprawls in front of her “classmates” on a recent Friday visit to Coyote Springs Elementary School. Kaya and Dewey, the library cat, help students deal with difficulties, and students can spend time with the animals as a reward for making good choices.
Courtesy Photo
Ava Poitras snuggles with Dewey, the Coyote Springs Elementary School library cat. Dewey often comforts students who are resting in the nurse’s office, or will walk a reluctant student to the classroom.
Courtesy Photo
Ava Poitras snuggles with Dewey, the Coyote Springs Elementary School library cat. Dewey often comforts students who are resting in the nurse’s office, or will walk a reluctant student to the classroom.
Courtesy Photo

Sue Tone
Reporter


Dewey nestled next to a young student lying on a cot in the nurse's room, keeping him company until his mother arrived. At Coyote Springs Elementary School, pets step in to provide comfort, inspiration and entertainment for students and staff alike.

Dewey is the school's library cat, part Siamese, full-blooded bringer of cheer. Spending time with Dewey or Kaya, a miniature Australian Shepherd mix, is a reward many children look forward to earning.

"We use pets to encourage students to make good choices, achieve academic goals, teach awareness about the feelings and needs of others, and to instill a sense of responsibility and respect for others," said CSES Principal Candice Blakely-Stump.

Oftentimes, children seek out the animals to help face with challenges arising from difficult situations. The pets help calm students and lessen the tensions and stresses of their daily lives.

They will "walk" a student to class who is having a hard time leaving mom or dad in the morning, for instance.

"Pets break down natural barriers that some kids have with communicating with others," Blakely-Stump said. "Kids will tell Kaya and Dewey their stories of sadness, joy and grief that they wouldn't normally divulge to people."

Recently, a third-grader having a difficult day ended up under his desk in class yelling at the teacher.

"Kaya and I came into the classroom, and within 10 seconds of her presence, the child was out from under his desk and walking with us in the hall telling Kaya why he was having such a difficult morning," she said.

Dewey came from a litter of six kittens that staff found when moving a storage shed. Five found homes, and Dewey became the library cat.

The school also has two lovebirds, two parakeets, and Jack, a cockatiel.

"I can't believe what a difference it makes in kids' lives and the adults that come in," Dawn Trujillo, attendance clerk.

Kaya belongs to Blakely-Stump and visits the school on Fridays. Kaya will test for therapy dog certification as soon as she turns 2 years old. Dewey goes home every night with Trujillo. She and other office staff come in on the weekends to check on the birds, as does Blakely-Stump.

"A lot of students have never seen a bird close up," said Keri Williams, administrative secretary. "They come in and feed them, water them, cover them up at night."

According to petsintheclassroom.org, one little pet can help shy kids open up, slower readers build confidence, rough children become nurturing, and uninterested students have a new desire for learning, said Blakely-Stump. Children learn a respect for living creatures and their needs that will serve them as pet owners later in life.


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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: dahlia and greg

Agree, student should' ve been disciplined. Unacceptable. Hopefully they weren't given a warm mug of cocoa and candy too.

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: Lack of health standards and consideration of allegies.

Just another reason enrollment keeps dropping. Parents that disagree don't complain, we find another school.

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: Who pays the Staff to care for the pets?

School or playtime, what about allegies, isn't this the school that banned peanuts, maybe the district should consider this non-sense when they ask for another Bond. You running a school or a summer camp?

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014
Article comment by: Simcha M.

A nice article I wish I had been a kid in this kind of school.

However, I'm not all that keen on calming a kid (the third-grader who was yelling at his teacher) down with a pet what ever happened to good old discipline??? Oh, silly me, I forgot! The self-esteem of the kid is more important than anything else G-d forbid we should damage or inhibit a kid's esteem!!

Sue: you mentioned nothing about a book that everyone should read, whether they are a cat lover or not: "Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World"??? Didn't you wonder out loud how the Dewey of Coyote Springs School got his name??

This is a book about the human condition and should be mandatory reading at the elementary level, at least.





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