Dog Visits Joelton Elementary for Read-Aloud

Therapy Dog Brings Smiles as Joelton Students Get Comfortable with Reading
Posted on 12/16/2022
Girl reading to golden retriever dog in class

Golden Retriever kisses student's face

A confidence boost can come in many ways: Maybe it’s a pat on the back, a “job well done” or a high-five.

For some students at Joelton Elementary School, it comes in the shape of a four-legged friend named Kolby who greets them each week with a wagging tail.

Kolby is a therapy dog who, alongside his handler, volunteers with READing Paws, an organization that thoroughly trains animals to serve as therapy animals in many different settings, like hospitals and schools. Kolby and his handler, Cindy Leake, visit Joelton once a week for read-aloud time with students. golden retriever dog resting head on girl's foot while she reads book

Shelby Porter, a third-grade teacher at Joelton Elementary, has one student participating in the Reading PAWS program and, just a few months into the program, has already seen positive improvements in her confidence and overall reading skills since Kolby became a part of her weekly routine.

“Some of the pressures that kids seem to feel around reading, a dog isn’t going to call them out on that,” she said. “As a teacher, I feel like half the battle is getting a kid to try when they don’t feel confident. Giving them a low-stakes, enjoyable purpose behind reading is a huge benefit.”

Leake, an education expert herself and a former MNPS high school math teacher, says it’s a joy to continue to work with students one on one in her retirement, especially with Kolby by her side. boy reading to Golden Retriever dog

“Students become less inhibited as we go each week,” she said. “And he (Kolby) really loves reading with little kids, especially."

“To see kids smile and feel successful while reading is what most of us hope for,” Porter says. “I just wish more of them got the chance to do that.”

Kolby seems to agree, as he snuggles up to a third-grader as the child reads the opening line of The Thank You Book: “I have a lot to be thankful for.”


Watch Kolby in Video

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Reading,Literacy,Elementary Schools