When you come to Grace International School you might run into a sweet golden retriever greeting people. Meet our friendly therapy dog, Lexi. She and her trainer, Tiffany, come to Grace every Monday morning to spend time with students who are part of our educational support program.
Since 2019, Lexi has been a blessing to students in the RISE classroom. The RISE classroom is successful in helping students reach independence through support and education with a curriculum that caters towards each individual. The classroom includes students with autism, Down syndrome, moderate learning disability, and more. Kristen, who is the head teacher of the RISE classroom, says, “Lexi and her trainer Tiffany have been wonderful blessings. They come to help ease anxiety my students have, as well as gain confidence in their reading abilities by reading to Lexi. Last year, some of my students had high fears of animals and would not even go near Lexi. Over time, they gained the courage to interact with Lexi and now every single one of them looks forward to Monday’s because they know Lexi and Tiffany are coming.”
Tiffany also uses Lexi to teach the students about empathy by asking questions such as “How do you think she feels when you suddenly pull her tail like that?” Since animals can’t communicate the same way that humans do, the children learn how to think about how Lexi—and at the same time, other people—might feel when they interact with each other.
“To me, Lexi represents our amazing creator,” Tiffany says. “I love seeing the surprise on people’s faces when they see what dogs are capable of. God’s creations are full of surprises and Lexi helps us look towards the creator. She brings the outside world inside the classroom and reminds us how amazing God is.”
Our vision at Grace is to have an inspiring learning environment for all students no matter their needs and the therapy dog program is one of those ways we accomplish this.