Paws in Schools, S12 Episode 5
If you miss having a four-legged friend with you at school every day, you may love this episode. Today, we’re exploring the Pawsitive Peers Foundation school therapy dog program in Mesa Public Schools, which allows staff to adopt local shelter dogs and train them to be certified therapy dogs.
Mesa Public Schools boasts one of the largest in-school dog therapy programs in the country, and hosts Daniela and Kathleen talk with dog lover and 2022 Arizona Teacher of the Year Nancy Parra-Quinlan about the program and the impact of therapy dogs on students and staff.
Parra-Quinlan explains the details of the Pawsitive Peers Foundation program and shares about her experiences training her dogs “Bear” and “Olaf” to become in-school therapy school. She also speaks to how she and the dogs navigate students’ possible fears or anxieties about dogs and to the benefits that the dogs provide for students and, in turn, that the students provide for the dogs.
Learn more about the Pawsitive Peers Foundation at pawsitivepeers.com and find photos and information about the program in action at Mesa Public Schools at mpsaz.org/commed/pawsitivepeers.
Here are some additional resources about therapy dogs in school:
- “Therapy Dog Programs: Improving Student and Staff Well-Being” from the National Association of Secondary School Principals
- “Review of the Research: Are Therapy Dogs in Classrooms Beneficial?” from the Forum on Public Policy
- “Therapy Dogs in Educational Settings: Guidelines and Recommendations for Implementation” from the National Library of Medicine
Learn more about the Arizona K12 Center at azk12.org.