Every Tuesday, a four-legged friend name Finnigan or better known as "Finn" enters Thomas Jefferson Elementary School with his owner Mary.
Finn is a certified therapy dog and lives right across the street. Finn spends his time comforting patients at hospitals, he's comforting students at Thomas Jefferson.
The four-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog started going to the school last year. For students who might be insecure reading, they plop down next to Finn and find comfort in reading a book to the 90-pound dog.
Olvia Klotz is a Professional School Counselor at Thomas Jefferson, she says Finn helps build the student's confidence when it comes to reading because kids feel comfortable around him and there's no judgment. Reading to Finn makes reading more fun for the students and takes some of the pressure off. Plus he's a really good listener.
"Finn is a great reminder to all of us, of the limitless impact of listening. As an adult, It doesn’t matter what our job is, what our level of education is, or how much money we have, we have the ability to foster change and promote growth for each and every one of our kids, at no cost, by listening. We don’t have to know all of the answers, we don’t have to be an expert on advice...by simply listening, we are meeting our kids where they are, showing them that they are enough, and silently providing added confidence for them to challenge themselves to higher goals," said Klotz.
Mary says the kids get really excited to see Finn and Finn doesn't mind it either, especially when he gets treats!
"I love him. He's really cool," said Hayden, a third-grader at Thomas Jefferson.
His size can be a little intimidating but students quickly see he's a big teddy bear.
Once a student is done reading they get a sticker, say their good-byes to Finn and patiently wait until they can read to their friend Finn again.
Mary and Finn are an amazing example of how we thrive as a school through community involvement. As educators and life changers at Thomas Jefferson, we are grateful and blessed to have such a great support system and have connections to our local community that influence and impact our students in such positive ways," said Klotz.