I grew up in Colorado and was originally a journalist. I covered the education beat at a Colorado newspaper and fell in love with education, so I decided to become a teacher. My first job was a teacher assistant at a facility that worked with students with emotional and behavioral disorders. I fell in love with the job and the wonderful students. One of the directors had a therapy dog that he brought to work every day, and it was amazing to see the students respond to the dog. It brought a smile to their faces, which was the most important memory I have from this field. I quickly became a teacher and received my master's degree in special education in May 2006. My husband and I moved to Seattle in June of 2006, and I became a special education teacher at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle.
I began looking into a therapy dog during the fall of 2006 and worked with Summit Assistance Dogs during the spring and summer of 2007. I learned about Summit through their Web site and through contacting the organization when I began looking into getting a therapy dog. I love how kind all of the Summit trainers are. I was blessed to work with many of the trainers this summer as I began getting to know my therapy dog - Sassy - and her commands. The trainers are so positive with each of the dogs and the dogs always have fun even when they are learning something tough.
Sassy has helped relieve school anxiety with one of my students. The student now comes to school every single day. Sassy goes on daily walks with one of my newer students and gets to romp in the grass with him. It is awesome to see them both smile. She has sat down with a student who was in crisis and helped calm the situation. I am looking forward to finding newer ways to incorporate her into my classroom.
Having Sassy means the world to me, not only has she become such a great addition to my classroom, she has become a natural member of my family. My husband and I have so much fun with her when she is not at work. We go to the dog park or to Hamlin Park every day for a walk and a run. I am also going to join the Reading with Rover program in Seattle and have my students join me for some service learning experiences.