Please join me in welcoming our newest staff member to Burlington High School. His name is Scooter!
Scooter is coming to Burlington High School with the support of a generous grant from the Burlington Education Foundation. We are extremely grateful for their continued support of our schools.
Scooter is a specifically trained classroom assistance dog. Scooter came to us from the National Education for Assistance Dog Services, also known as the NEADS organization, which is located in Princeton, MA. NEADS is accredited by Assistance Dogs International, the internationally recognized governing body that establishes industry standards and practices for assistance dogs. NEADS Dogs are taught a list of core commands and they follow a basic training schedule throughout puppyhood. It takes about 18-24 months for a dog to be trained. 90-95% of NEADS puppies are trained in 9 correctional facilities throughout New England. Once a dog is nearing completion of the program and is matched with a specific client, the dog’s training is tailored to the client’s unique needs.
Burlington High School’s Special Education Department Head, Christina Cicolini, will be Scooter’s handler and primary caretaker. Christina will be trained for 10 days out on the NEADS Campus in Princeton. At the end of the training, she must successfully complete the training schedule and also receive a passing score on a public access test to graduate and leave the campus with Scooter.
There are many benefits of having service dogs in schools. One resource I found useful when contemplating a service dog for Burlington High School is Charlotte’s Litter, Bringing Therapy Dogs to Your School.
Scooter’s responsibilities will evolve at BHS over time, but he will be here to help students alleviate stress and anxiety. Specifically, Scooter will work in our BRIDGE Program at BHS. This is a structured, self-contained mixed-grade therapeutic program for students who require a small, emotionally and physically safe space for their instruction in English, Math, Science and Social Studies. BRIDGE provides organizational support and therapeutic interventions including individual and group counseling.
Scooter will be a therapeutic companion to students suffering from depression, panic attacks, anxiety, school phobia and communication disorders. Scooter will provide a safe, non-judgmental and relaxing way for students to learn in an environment that promotes safety and success. Immediately upon his arrival, Scooter will impact close to 100 students and assist them with a variety of social and emotional needs.
Scooter will be joining Burlington High School in late March, please keep an eye out for him when you’re on campus.