Dogs in New Jersey School Inspire Students

Sometimes you meet a person who just inspires you to get out there and make the world a better place. Sometimes you meet a dog who does this. And every once in a while, you come across an inspiring human-dog team.

Such is the case with Ingrid Schillebeeckx-Rice and her dogs Nola and Indy. You can’t meet this team and not come away enlivened.

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Ingrid is a New Jersey Learning Consultant who has always believed that dogs belong in schools. Her dogs, Nola and Indy, take turns accompanying her to school and floating in and out of classrooms to help students with special needs.

Nola (short for Gra’Nola) is a 4-year-old Goldendoodle. Indy (short for Indy-Go) is a 1-year-old Labradoodle. Both are trained therapy dogs and have been going to school since they were puppies, and they have formed incredible bonds with the students. Kids who were once anxious about reading now come to Ingrid’s office in their downtime to sit and read books to the dogs.

Whereas most students hate formal testing, Ingrid has kids lined up at her door, ready to come in and get to work so they can hang out with the dogs. As soon as a student finishes his or her test, Nola pops up and runs for her toys. She knows that she gets to play once the work is done. Ingrid says, “The dogs make my job so easy!”

But wait, there’s more. The dogs have also transformed many of these students into published writers. Either Nola or Indy comes into the classroom every time the kids sit down to write, and Ingrid has secured grant funding to publish what the kids write.

For example, last year two classes of fourth graders teamed up to write Shuttle Adventure: Lost in Space. While studying award-winning children’s book author Chris Van Allsburg, the students were inspired to create their own sci-fi experience with Nola as the main character. Students also helped with Nola’s photo shoots. (And there are rumors of a sequel.)

So far, Ingrid’s students (or should we say Nola’s and Indy’s students) have published 17 books. Each book shows both process and proof of the students’ learning. And of course, each book prominently features either Nola or Indy.

You can learn more about Ingrid, Nola, Indy, and their students, and see all of their published books by visiting Nola’s Notebook.

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