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Royal Heights Elementary teacher surprised with funding for therapy dogs

There’s nothing quite like curling up with a nice dog.

Representatives from Western Governor’s University presented a check to Royal Heights Elementary School Monday morning to help defray the cost of having two therapy dogs in a pilot program at the school in the next year.

“Not only does it just lift the mood in the building, it can help with reading fluency, how to make a friend, all those kinds of social things, too,” says second grade teacher Kate Tupper at Royal Heights.

Tupper oversees the therapy dog pilot program at Royal Heights.

The project was selected for funding after WGU Missouri received multiple nominations describing the need for a therapy dog at the school. Approximately 22 percent of students at Royal Heights Elementary suffer from some sort of trauma-related symptom that impacts their success at school

Teachers and staff believe therapy dogs will be a great tool in teaching empathy, compassion and self-regulation for a range of students, including those who are on the autism spectrum, have anxiety or those who are struggling with learning disabilities, overcoming trauma or are stressed out in their personal lives.

Dr. Angie Besendorfer, Chancellor of WGU Missouri, presented the check to Tupper during a surprise all-school assembly Monday morning.

Money awarded will be used for training and supplies for the dogs, one of which is a hypoallergenic goldendoodle named Bridget.

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