CLINTON, Tenn. (WATE) — Anderson County Schools is using a therapy dog in Fairview Elementary School to boost mental health and communication.
The newly certified Goldendoodle, “Lana” is in Sarah Poston’s classroom every day.
“They give her commands! Tell her to sit, throw the ball, come, lay and they’ll even go over and tell her stories. It’s really kind of cool,” Poston said.
Poston introduced Lana to her students hoping a therapy dog would improve social-emotional wellness and fine motor skills for children with disabilities.
“I have students that have a hard time communicating and Lana is their segue to be able to communicate and discuss things where they would not normally have a conversation,” Poston said.
Students who are struggling, find solace in Lana. She provides a sense of safety that gives them the courage to ask for help.
“I taught her to where if a student is having a rough day I’ll go over, and she’ll come up and curl up in his lap and give him ‘a golden hug,'” said Poston.
Poston has a front-row seat to the power of the human-animal bond and Lana’s knack for understanding when kids need her.
“I had one student specifically who had never been around a dog and was very standoffish. Lana knew the space where she needed to be. Like she’s very intuitive and understanding ‘this one I can play with,’ ‘this one I need to kind of hang back with.’ She won them over,” Poston said.
Lana is leaving an impression on the students of Fairview Elementary, and her ability to improve students’ communication, energy levels and happiness in the classroom is leaving a lasting impression on Poston.
“She treats them like family and if they are having a bad day she feels it, she goes over and takes care of them. If they need to play, she feels it goes over and does it. It’s a win-win, to be honest. There is nothing negative other than my car and the fur,” Poston said.
She and Lana will also greet students in the mornings at drop-off and they plan to visit students during TCAP testing to reduce stress.
Poston had Lana certified through the HABIT program, which stands for Human-Animal Bond in Tennessee.