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Dog helps South Windsor students improve their reading skills

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Story by Madison Donahue, Reporter/ Lauren Adamo and Hannah Mitchell, Videographers, South Windsor High School

SOUTH WINDSOR -- Learning to read can be a stressful task, but children at Orchard Hill Elementary School in South Windsor are getting help from a Golden Retriever named Josie.

Josie is a certified therapy dog. Her owner Sandy Charbonneau has been working with the school for many years. She was inspired to help after the Sandy Hook tragedy and started the READ program.

“The program that I do here is the reading program. It’s called R.E.A.D. because it means Reading Education Assistance Dogs. The theory behind it is that when children come in to read with an animal whether it be a dog or something else, their inhibitions, nervousness and fear of reading goes away,” said Charbonneau.

Orchard Hill Elementary principal, Mike Tortora was skeptical at first. But now believes Josie plays a key role in helping students thrive.

“At first I think I was a little hesitant, until we started to talk about it. Because then she kind of told me the overall purpose of the program and the training that was involved with her a Josie and the benefits to our students,” Tortora said.

“I like reading with Josie because when you make mistakes reading she doesn’t judge you,” said Kaitlynn, one of the students in the program.

Charbonneau is optimistic that she and Josie will continue to benefit the students for years to come.

For more on reading therapy dogs, click here, or go to their Facebook page, click here.


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