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Rankin School District #98



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Facilities/Therapy Dog at Rankin School District #98 - Welcome to Rankin, Lucie!

Dear Parents and Guardians:

Rankin School District #98 completed the planning and preparation process for Lucie, who will serve in our school as our Facilities/Therapy Dog beginning October 15, 2018.  Rachel Lamberson (Elementary Teacher and Certified Dog Handler) and her dog Lucie (Certified Facilities/Therapy Dog) have completed the training and certification process through the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.  As part of the training, Lucie received her K9 Good Citizen Certificate through the American Kennel Club, which is combined with her certification from the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.  Mrs. Lamberson and Lucie’s combined training included successful visits on campus with the Rankin Board of Education and with patients at the Illinois Cancer Center.  

We are very excited about this opportunity!  Lucie brightens the day and helps us provide a more loving, homely atmosphere here at Rankin!  You can learn all about our program via the overview that we have included.  Please note that the necessary training for this program has been completed, procedures and safeguards are in place, and Lucie will always be in the presence of Mrs. Lamberson (Certified Dog Handler). 

Please note that parents and guardians do have the option to submit an opt-out form (see included form), which would prevent Lucie from entering specific classrooms.  This form can also be utilized for informational purposes only and not for opting out.  Please feel free to utilize this form to make us aware of any special circumstances regarding your child and animals.  We provide update about the happenings of this program.   Thus, please make sure to check us out on Facebook and Twitter.  As always, please do not hesitate to contact any of us with any concerns or questions you may have. 
Dr. Matt Gordon, Superintendent
April McLaughlin, Principal
Rachel Lamberson, Elementary Teacher and Certified Dog Handler


Rankin School District #98 Facilities/Therapy Dog Program Overview


*** Rankin School District #98 – Gives credit to Alliance of Therapy Dogs as Primary Source for information.


•    Increase social-emotional competence in struggling students
•    Reduce negativity/anxiety and promote the feeling of family within the school environment
•    An increase of positive behavior among students
•    Increase self-confidence in students
•    Provide opportunities to make school an inviting place
•    Teach correct dog interaction and safety
•    Provide a more well-rounded education for our students

•   Lucie is in the building as much or as little as needed in order to adjust to the school environment without being overwhelmed.

•   Lucie works directly with her handler, Mrs. Lamberson. Additional classroom lessons and visits are made possible as Mrs. Lamberson’s schedule permits and in conjunction with levels of consent from parents/guardians and staff members.  

•   Lucie remains on a leash the majority of the time.  She is a certified therapy dog and does not require a leash, and this may occur in a classroom with a closed door with a full consent group.

•   Mrs. Lamberson will follow all Alliance of Therapy Dog rules/procedures.

•   Students must follow all Mrs. Lamberson’s rules/procedures or they will not be allowed to interact with Lucie.

•   Students will never be forced to interact with Lucie.  

•   Parents and guardians are provided the opportunity to opt-out their children of the periodic in-classroom visits with Lucie.

•   Typically, allergies are related to pet dander and not the actual pet.  Lucie will be properly groomed and cleaning procedures will be utilized to limit pet dander.  Also, the District will seek remedies for any potential issues related to allergies.    

·  Physical – interaction with a dog reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation 
to move, walk, and stimulates the senses

·  Social – a visit with a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, promotes greater self-esteem and well-being, and focused interaction with others. Lucie also is a relatable, easy to interpret companion for students with cognitive disabilities/impairments.
·  Cognitive – companionship with a dog stimulates memory, problem solving, and game playing. Using Lucie as a talking point in the
 classroom during various subjects creates a relatable and engaging point of interest, which can improve student involvement throughout the lesson.

·  Emotional – the presence of a therapy dog improves self-esteem, acceptance from others, and lifts mood – often by provoking laughter. The presence of a dog is also proven to lower stress and anxiety along with promoting a feeling of safety amongst those present.

·  Environmental – a dog in a facility increases the positive feeling of a school and lifts mood. This has been proven to continue after the interaction has finished. A dog can also create a positive environment by proving feelings of non-judgment, understanding, and safety.

Possible Activities Provided to School
•    Visits to the library
•    Meet and greet at bus drop off and pick up
•    Lunch visits
•    PAWS-itive behavior referrals

•    Reading to Lucie for struggling students /test taking accommodations to read aloud
•    After school tutoring visits
•    Change the environment during a student meltdown         
Supporting Research
“There is no doubt that children are drawn to animals; however, is there more to this connection then the simple fascination?  The scientific research is still relatively new in this area, but there have been numerous studies that believe animal interaction is extremely beneficial to child’s social and cognitive development.”


Improves Environment
“The theory that children receive developmental benefits from canine interaction is based on the concepts of: attachment theory, conceptualism, environmental psychology and child therapy. Dogs have a particularly calming effect on children; this is because of their non-threatening and non-judging nature. This ‘calm’ creates as safe environment for the child allowing them to engage at a level that previously would have taken
numerous sessions to develop rapport. This engagement is seen in a child’s willingness to participate, alertness, responsiveness and an increase in self-disclosure. Dogs are also believed to be a beneficial tool in working with students on 
the spectrum as the dog’s social cues are easier to interpret.” Cirulli, Francesca, Borgi, Marta, Berry, Alessandra, Francia, Nadia, &

Alleva, Enrico. (2011). Animal-assisted interventions as innovative tools for mental health. Annali dell'Istituto Superiore di Sanità, 47(4), 341-348. https://dx.doi.org/10.4415/ANN_11_04_04



Encourages Traumatic Debriefing

“Animal Assisted Innervations have proven very effective when working with traumatized children. The animal in these situations were either used as a social partner in the session or as a metaphor. Dogs are commonly used in sessions for activities such as: telling the dog (opposed to the counselor) about their experiences, explaining the incident through the dog’s perspective, and grooming the animal while engaging with the counselor. These interventions are successful due to their ability to assist in the child’s regulation throughout the session, allowing the child in distance themselves from the incident while telling their story, and express themselves to a completely neutral party (dog).”  O’Haire, M. E., Guérin, N. A., & Kirkham, A. C. (2015). Animal-Assisted Intervention for trauma: a systematic literature review. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 1121. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01121

Positive Effects on ADHD Symptoms

“ADHD presents as an inability to control one's behaviors, impulses, and movements. ADHD isn’t curable however individuals can learn skills and techniques to decrease the effects of these symptoms. Animal-based interventions have shown to have calming and de-arousing effects on children. These effects promote the child’s ability to focus and engage in interventions that targets over activity, impulse control or agitation. Combining Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Animal Assisted Interventions increases a child’s chances of overcoming their symptoms and excelling in the classroom.” Busch, C., Tucha, L., & Talarovicova, A. (2016).  Animal-Assisted Interventions for Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. A Theoretical Review and Consideration of Future Research Directions, 118 (1), 292-331. http:// doi/full/10.1177/0033294115626633

 Academic Benefits

“Animal-Assisted Activities have shown to have academic benefits in the form of achievements. Having a dog in a classroom reduces stress and anxiety while improving motivation. This is extremely beneficial during times of high stress such as testing. A dog can also increase motivation, focus and task persistence through being incorporated into classroom lessons. These benefits are achieved through using a topic of discussion that is tangible, engaging and unique to their school.  In social studies a dog can be used to examine the roles of working animals, science can focus on reproduction or lifecycles, health can examine canine diet and math can work on the costs of owning a dog.” Beck, K (2015). The Impact of Canine-Assisted Therapy and Activities on Children in an Educational Setting. Education Masters, 6.312. http://fisherpub.sjfc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1313&context=education_ETD_masters


Improvements to Literacy Levels

“Schools all over the country have programs focused on improving literacy skills within their students.  There have been numerous studies demonstrating the positive the effect a therapy dog has on these students. With the addition of a therapy dog into the program the children literacy performance increased. The greatest increases were seen in small group and individual settings. This is believed to be because of the calming effect of the presence on the dog. The children benefit in this environment because of the decrease in anxiety and blood pressure. The combination of these physical effects combined with the non-judgmental nature of the animal allows the student to feel confident and motivated to succeed. This belief in self, combined with the calming environment created by the animal allows the student to practice their skills more readily thus improving their literacy level.” Hall SS, Gee NR, Mills DS (2016) Children Reading to Dogs: A Systematic Review of the Literature. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0149759. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149759




Rankin School District #98 – Facilities/Therapy Dog – Opt out – Form


We would like to exercise the opt out clause for Rankin School District #98’s Facilities/Therapy Dog, which prevents Lucie from entering my child’s classroom during the 2019-2020 school year.  Further, I would like for my child to always be kept away at a reasonable distance from Lucie. 


Child’s Name_______________________________________  Date____________________________________

Parent’s Name______________________________________ Parent’s Signature__________________________   

   (Signature initiates the opt-out clause)

Special Notes ______________________________________________________________________________




While we do not wish to opt-out for the Rankin School District #98’s Facilities/Therapy Dog Program, we wish to provide the information below.

Child’s Name_______________________________________  Date____________________________________

Parent’s Name______________________________________ Parent’s Signature__________________________
Special Notes _______________________________________________________________________________