“This is much more than a dog-in-the-classroom program… Most kids have an instinctive, positive emotional connection to animals. This program recognizes that connection and meets the kids where they are. It then adds complexity and structure to develop the interpersonal and emotional skills kids need for academic achievement. Skills like empathy, self-regulation and impulse control are crucial for student success. In fact, I would argue that Mutt-i-grees helps provide a social and emotional bridge that takes kids where they need to be to become successful students.”
Miguel A. Cardona, EdD
Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
Meriden Public Schools
“The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum has impacted the staff/administration by targeting the belief systems and school culture at Northaven Elementary. The program has made a difference in both the adults and students in regard to the relationships that have been strengthened by integrating empathy into the school, all day, every day. The Curriculum focuses on empathy and the understanding of another person's thoughts and feelings. This has helped the faculty to better understand where the students are coming from emotionally, as these feelings have a direct impact on the student's decision-making and behaviors. This greater understanding of students and families has allowed Northaven staff members to provide optimal opportunities to build relationships with all stakeholders and ultimately to achieve greater student achievement.”
Dr. Kimberly C. Hartlage
Executive Director of Elementary Education
Greater Clark County Schools
“Kids are naturally generous, warm, caring, and creative and they love dogs. Mutt-i-grees is a natural [fit]! I like the flexibility and variety of programs. It is also a great way to establish connections within your local community. Mutt-i-grees can be implemented in stages; it includes many low-cost and easy programs to implement before taking on some of the larger project ideas. I love watching kids grow through listening to stories and using their creativity to make something that will make a difference. Mutt-i-grees combines two of my loves – dogs and volunteering."
- Linda Pannuto, Youth Librarian
Orion Township Public Library
Lake Orion, MI
“I was delighted to have implemented it. It created an interest in shelter pets, while teaching social and emotional skills. It helped my students' engagement in the classroom, created a higher interest in shelter pets, and taught the importance of giving back to the community."
- Shanna Fletcher, 5th grade reading teacher
Bixby Central Immediate School
“My administrator visited us one day last week and videotaped a few students. She asked a boy what his favorite thing about school was and he answered, “Well, gym and Mutt Club.” I was thrilled with that answer!”
- Camy Bankemper
21st Century Community Learning Center
Donald E. Cline Elementary School
Cold Spring, KY
“We teach the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum in 6 of the 10 classrooms at one preschool site. A few weeks ago, we opened another classroom there. The Director asked me if we had time to start Mutt-i-grees in the new classroom, as she thought it would be beneficial. It turns out that the class has some students with very challenging behaviors and the teacher is brand new. I think that speaks volumes about the Curriculum; the teacher was seeing results from previous years, as well as this current year, and could see that Mutt-i-grees does make a difference. That really made me feel good.”
- Judy Clay, Early Childhood Special Education Director
Arch Ford Education Cooperative
“I have always loved my work and have had amazing students that do great things each year, but this has been such a great year with distinct positive differences now that I am implementing the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum.”
- Lisa Mongiello, Animal Science Teacher
Eastern Suffolk BOCES - Brookhaven Technical Center
"To have students who are educated and trained to assist and facilitate the workings of the Second Chance Animal Shelter means that we will have future adults who have the empathy and knowledge to deal with animals who are less fortunate than our own pets. Building a community’s capacity with students and adults who understand and care for animals can only make that community a better place to live and work for everyone."
-Mark Babiarz, Principal at Selma High School, CA
The Curriculum allows a student to tell his or her own story...gives them ownership and responsibility. It gives them freedom to tell/write about one self which is most needed.
-Ricki G., High School Teacher, NY
My favorite unit is Encouraging Empathy! Everything stems from empathy – Empathy creates self-awareness, maturity, and better citizenship.
The Curriculum builds self-confidence and empathy in adolescents. What could be better than that? -Bonnie M., High School Assistant Principal of English and ESL, NY
When I discuss issues related to dogs, the students are always alert and interested. Many students love dogs and have an interest in helping shelter animals.
The varied activities allow for teachers to target their objective and allow for student diversity. Encouraging Empathy is my favorite unit. The writing activities promote awareness of animal behavior and awareness about animal cruelty. Students learn about themselves as they relate to dogs and to literature.
-Wendy W., High School Teacher, NY
Achieving Awareness is my favorite unit. I like the history part of it – the genetics, the connections between dogs and people – the idea that dogs, like humans, are unique – “Mutts” are unique – you do not have to be a “Breed” or “Brand Name” to be “Special” – Bought or adopted. Many Americans today have parents, grandparents from many varied nations – are we Mutts?
I am very pleased and heartened that you created a Curriculum on the need for us to adopt shelter dogs – especially Mutts and older dogs. Teaching children as early as possible to empathize and care can, I believe, be successful in future behavior motivating them to adopt from shelters – thank you!
-Diane B., High School Teacher, NY
Achieving Awareness is my favorite unit. As a teacher and a “Rescue Mom” of 3 shelter dogs I think the most important step is Awareness. Teens are very vocal people who can really make a difference. This unit allows them to understand the plight of a shelter dog, but also identify with them on many levels. -Terry W., High School Special Ed Teacher, NY
Encouraging Empathy teaches students to understand how their actions and words affect others. In a HS setting students may say something to another student and not realize the impact those words may have because the other student may laugh along in order to “save face”. This particular unit allows them to develop an awareness of others emotions, communicate and develop relationships and learn about helping others. We live in a world where kindness is often an afterthought. These units allow us to teach the lesson in an environment and a format that is not intimidating.
Students enjoy the variety of activities and the chance to discuss. They like to share their opinions and their experiences. It becomes a “teachable” moment when students share activities about their lives, neighborhoods and homes which have become part of their everyday existence and the lesson helps shed light on the reason it may not be in their best interest.
In the Achieving Awareness unit – Lesson: Who Let the Dogs In? I especially like that it introduces Mutt-i-grees to the students using 21st century technology and the social media which the majority of the students are very interested in, can relate with and be creative in their presentation. -Beth B., High School Teacher, NC
The Curriculum encourages students to use higher-level thinking skills. It also encourages thinking beyond the classroom. -Mary L., High School Teacher, AR
I liked the Mutt-i-grees Club Activities. It introduced students to volunteer work as well as teaching valuable skills. -Lacey M., School Psychologist, AR
The Finding Feelings unit has multiple applications to teaching language arts, which I teach. Also, my personal belief is that words verbal communications) and non-vebal signals are at the core of all interactions. If we misalign our messages, communication fails, creating conflict and disharmony. -Debbie S., High School Teacher, CA
As an entrepreneurial school, I imagine how this Curriculum could influence students to create services, products, and organizations to support dogs. -Cynthia C., High School Common Core Implementation Specialist, CA
“Students are seeing beyond themselves, considering how they ‘fit in with the pack.’ The Curriculum is also user-friendly for busy teachers.” -Susanna Jordan, Teacher, Lakeview Middle School
“The Curriculum makes sense in a desensitizing world.”
-10th grade male student participating in pilot test of Grades 9-12 Curriculum
“Mutt-i-grees® teaches us that we are special.” -1st grade student
“The Curriculum made me feel important.” - 6th grade student
“I can attest to the fact that visits to my office involving bullying, for instance, have definitely dropped as our Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum took off.” -Matthew Spade, Principal, Ponderosa Elementary School
“It enhances self- and social awareness and encourages students to develop a sense of responsibility... It meets our kids at whatever developmental level they¹re at and then takes them higher.”
-David Riddick, Principal, Fenton Avenue Charter School
“Bravo to whoever brought the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum to our school. This sounds like an amazing approach to discuss such important and valuable topics. Promoting appreciation for their individual qualities and acceptance of individual diversity is so desperately needed, especially at this age. Being comfortable in one¹s own skin and being committed to your principles is difficult at any age.” -Parent of a 5th grade student
“I liked how easy it was to illustrate the power of communication through body language, using dogs as examples. It was very easy for all the students to understand the objective of the lessons. I also liked the positive and hopeful message about handling adversity. The students were engaged and enjoyed the lessons.” -School Psychologist
“I liked seeing how thinking about and relating to dogs brought out positive feelings in my students.” -Teacher, grades 7 & 8
“The teachers that implemented the program this year had positive comments to share with our entire staff. One of the teachers commented that it was her favorite thing to teach during the week.” -5th grade teacher
“My students were very interested in talking about their experiences with dogs. I especially liked how easy it was to relate human body language with how dogs communicate non-verbally.” -Teacher, grades 6-8
“By focusing on dogs and learning about and from dogs, children are learning about their own feelings and about other people¹s feelings. We are sowing the seeds for a more humane world and helping children.” -2nd grade teacher
“I especially liked the emphasis on accepting diversity and the idea of tolerance.” -Teacher, grades 6-8