Some four legged friends have enrolled in a new class called Barkology 101 to help enhance student learning at Hoover’s Crossroads alternative school. The New Beginnings program was awarded a grant from the Hoover City Schools Foundation this summer to fund the new class. Eight students and five dogs from the schools Personal Development Class were chosen to work together in becoming a Hand in Paw Therapy Team. The 1st semester the students will travel to the Hoover Petsmart every Wednesday for dog obedience training with an accredited pet training instructor. During the 2nd semester they will work with Hand In Paw to certify the dogs as visiting therapy dogs while the students will study to become handlers for the dogs. The students will ultimately be able to take the dogs to places such as Children’s Hospital, UAB Hospital, senior living facilities and possibly other schools.
New Beginnings accepts 60 students each academic year and provides non-traditional learning activities to help young people achieve personal, academic and vocational success. The class is led by teachers Kim Spidell, Charles Crowder and LeAnna Hurst, Gateway Counselor. Therapy dogs are not new to the school campus, Principal Anna Whitney the program creator began taking her dog Andy to school 6 yrs. ago. She saw the impact his presence had on students and staff he just became part of the program. Then she added 2 more dogs through the years, Gumbo and Izzie. Mrs. Whitney wanted to “do something out of the box” to enhance student learning and be a positive reinforcement for the students while learning to be good citizens. The students are very excited about this opportunity and have already developed unique relationship with each dog.