The Princeton Public Schools welcomed a new staff member at the Tuesday night school board meeting. Tiger the Golden Doodle dog will work at all four elementary schools in the district once he is fully trained.
This is the first time the school district will have an in-district therapy dog. Sarah Moore, the supervisor of elementary education for the district, has been working with a Golden Doodle breeder that has experience in training and placing dogs in therapeutic settings to find a suitable dog. A puppy recently became available and was selected for training. The dog was donated by TriState Bernedoodles of West Berlin.
“I have had the opportunity to work with therapy dogs in other districts and the outcome, particularly with difficult-to-reach students, has been wonderful,” said Moore, who joined the district this year after working in the Robbinsville school district.
“It’s another method to reach students who need support and I have seen first-hand what a huge difference it can make,” Moore said.
Tiger is about 12 weeks old and district staff members said he is very affectionate. Moore recently asked elementary students to vote on a name for the puppy and Tiger received the most votes.
Until Tiger is fully trained, he will only be in the district on Fridays when he will be at the Valley Road building administrative offices. When he is not in training or visiting Valley Road, Tiger will live with Moore. Once Tiger completes his training, which could take the remainder of this school year, he will join more at the elementary schools as an official therapy dog, rotating through the schools on a weekly basis.
Moore told Planet Princeton that therapy dog programs in schools have been found to help increase reading and language skills, improve social-emotional skills, and strengthen gross motor skills.
“A therapy dog program where students read to dogs can help also help foster a love of literacy,” Moore said. “Petting dogs can also help lower cortisol levels, which allows students to decompress and help them learn how to regulate and manage stress. I’m very excited to participate in this program with
Princeton Public Schools. The excitement around Tiger from students and staff has been fantastic.”