A Lhasa Apso named Gracie is a big hit with the special education class at Johnson High School in Georgia. Not only is Gracie popular with the students but she has helped their reading skills improve.
Mike McWhorter is a graduate of Johnson High School and knew he wanted to give back to his high school in some way. He never knew his dog would be how he would do it.
He began to notice how Gracie was drawn to people with disabilities when he would take her out in public. He contacted the special education teacher at Johnson High School, Amy Curran, to discuss the idea of Gracie visiting her class.
“From the moment we tried it out, Gracie loved the students,” said McWhorter. “And they loved her just as much.”
The kids love working with Gracie on tricks and commands. Gracie is always learning new tricks and can even ride a skateboard. She isn’t just entertainment for the students though. Gracie has had a huge impact on their learning as well.
The students take turns reading to Gracie from a book and the improvement in their reading skills has been significant. Reading is usually not a favorite activity for the students in Curran’s class, but when Gracie is there that changes. One of the students, Will Crain, says reading to Gracie is his favorite part of her visit.
“Because we get a lot better at reading than we did,” said Crain.
Gracie’s presence takes the pressure off of reading and her visits have given the students a lot of confidence.
“This was something special that they got to do, that nobody else got to do,” said Curran. “My kids they never get to do a lot of things that everybody else gets to do. So this is something special for them. We love it.”