Violet Goes To School

Students at Deane-Porter and Forrestdale Schools were very excited when Violet came to the neighborhood earlier this year. With each day, they grew more eager to have Violet join them. And then it happened…the big day, when Violet goes to school.

Students from Rumson-Fair Haven High School (RFH) and their adorable therapy dog Violet began joining English language arts classes at Deane Porter and Forrestdale schools. The new weekly pilot program, Reading Buddies-Paws and Practice, provides a safe space where children who may experience difficulty reading or those with learning differences or anxiety can exercise their reading skills. Often, children who have difficulty reading fear judgment and become self-conscious, while practicing reading aloud has improved results and performance when a dog, especially one as charming as Violet, is a listener.

Michael Snyder, Rumson Borough’s Supervisor of Special Services, praises the collaboration, saying, “This pilot program is representative of the strong partnership between Rumson-Fair Haven and Rumson Borough. Sharing best practices strengthens our district’s offerings and allows creative initiatives, such as Reading Buddies-Paws and Practice, to be leveraged for educational enrichment of our students.”

Violet and her RFH students, under the direction of Jennifer Dellett, Victoria Vaughan, and classroom teacher Sandy Self, will be lending their ears to readers as they develop fluency, build confidence, and ignite their potentials. Ms. Self has already noticed a marked increase of excitement for reading. “Violet’s first visit was a big success,” she said. “Students couldn’t wait to select books classroom library books to read with Violet and their RFH student partner.” As a result of student interest, Ms. Self intends to expand the benefits of the partnership with RFH beyond reading and into the areas of oral language and communication, research, and writing. Students will conduct interviews with therapy dog trainers and handlers, research benefits of various dog breeds, and reflect in writing on their own experience as a member of Reading Buddies-Paws and Practice.