Our School Spirit Lasts An Eternity

SCA Students Offered Reading Support from Special Furry Friends

Therapy dog Roxi and her mom Brenda enjoy listening as SCA 5th grade student Catherine Cramer reads them a story.

(Lee’s Summit, MO) – It is not uncommon to see “furry” friends in the elementary library at Summit Christian Academy (SCA). Last year, SCA started a new reading program called GEMS, which allows for certified therapy animals to visit hesitant students during their reading time.

SCA’s mission with the GEMS program is to inspire students to have a passion for reading. GEMS hopes that hesitant students will come to treasure this time of reading to a pet friend rather than dreading it, as it has been demonstrated that children who read to a nonjudgmental furry friend gain confidence and build self-esteem as reading becomes more natural.

GEMS is a part of Pets for Life (PFL), a local, nonprofit organization that certifies pets and their owners to volunteer together. PFL and Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.), a global, non-profit organization, work together so that Kansas Citians have the opportunity to get certified with their pets–including dogs, cats and bunnies–and volunteer together to listen to children read in schools and libraries.

One of SCA’s reading buddies is Roxi, a beautiful five year-old Doberman Pinscher show dog. Roxi is the pet of Brenda Jones who shares that Roxi has been a Pets for Life therapy dog since May of 2014, that she is an American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen, and that she recently received recognition as an AKC Novice Therapy Dog.   After reading a book to Roxi for fifteen minutes, the student can play with her for five minutes. Roxi enjoys listening to stories, performing tricks, and receiving attention from students while they gain reading confidence- a great arrangement for all involved!

Elementary Principal and Academic Dean Kimberlee Gill, alongside Elementary Vice Principal Charissa Sanders and SCA parent Susan Ruiz (who has volunteered with PFL for eight years and founded a local hospital’s animal-assisted therapy program) were able to set the GEMS program in motion at SCA last year.

GEMS was created in memory of long-time Pets for Life volunteer Jim Anderson and in honor of his work with Emma, his and his wife Cheryl’s Husky/German Shepherd dog. This kind, gentle team brought countless smiles to all they met.

If you would like information about becoming a certified R.E.A.D. volunteer with your dog, cat, or bunny, please contact SCA parent Susan Ruiz at susanruiz@kc.rr.com.

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