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Mutt-i-grees® in the News Spring 2014

Dear Colleague,

Spring has finally sprung and schools, libraries, and afterschool organizations around the country are celebrating by hosting Mutt-i-grees Pack Parties to support their local animal shelters!

If you are hosting an upcoming Pack Party, please share your experiences and photos with us at [email protected]. Check out the stories below highlighting Pack Parties that have already taken place.

Best of luck to you all in your fundraising efforts! Remember to let us know how much you raised by logging in to your Pack Party account; the organization that raises the most funds will win $1,000 and a visit from Scooby-Doo!


Mutt-i-grees Mania in Miami

In an effort to raise community awareness of Mutt-i-grees, students and educators from Maya Angelou Elementary School and Irving & Beatrice Peskoe K-8 Center held several successful fundraisers to benefit Mutt-i-grees in their community. Students from the Miami-Dade school district from PreK-High School also joined North Shore Animal League America and Miami-Dade Animal Animal Services at NSALA's Tour For Life stop in Miami to celebrate their Mutt-i-gree Pack Party and promote shelter adoptions. High school students mentored the younger students, teaching them to walk and feed dogs, clean cages, and give the animals lots of love and affection! Families also joined in to raise money for this worthy cause and help get the pets adopted into loving homes.


Partying for Mutt-i-grees in New Orleans

With the support of North Shore Animal League America and Warner Brothers, Jefferson SPCA partnered with Meisler Middle School and Boy Scout Troop 269 for this year's Tour for Life and Mutt-igrees Park Party event in New Orleans, LA. Students and teachers alike held several successful fundraisers to support the mission of Jefferson SPCA leading up to an exciting Mega Adopt-A-Thon on March 22-23, 2014.


DC Pack Party a Howling Success

On Saturday, March 22, 2014, a group of students and staff from Saint Matthias the Apostle School in Lanham, Maryland came out to host a Mutt-i-grees Pack Party as a part of North Shore Animal League America's Tour for Life 2014. The event was held to support Homeward Trails, an animal rescue partner shelter in Arlington, VA. The event was coordinated by Christina Beal, St. Matthias's kindergarten teacher, who began using the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum earlier in 2014. "We're in the middle of the first unit and the students are really enjoying it," she says. "Especially the puppet!"

Kariann Campbell, the school's first grade teacher, also attended the event to show her support for Homeward Trails. Both Mrs. Beal and Miss Campbell are hoping the Curriculum will be used by other teachers in the next school year. An army of volunteers brought a variety of dogs to the Tour For Life event, and the people from the surrounding community came out to see if they could find their forever friend. The students of Saint Matthias Academy were on hand to greet the potential adopters and solicit donations to support the shelter. The school is going to continue raising funds and supplies to support the shelter in the next few weeks. The Washington DC Tour For Life event was a smashing success with 22 Mutt-i-gree adoptions!


Tri-School Pack Party Highlights the Benefits of Teamwork

Three schools in the Los Angeles area joined together to host a variety of Mutt-i-grees Pack Party celebrations during the week of March 17-21, 2014. Fenton Avenue Charter School, Fenton Primary Center, and Santa Monica Boulevard Community Charter worked together to raise awareness and funds for Mutt-i-grees. Each school designed fun, week-long activities to promote shelter animals, including poster contests, door decorating contests, and hat contests, among others. Students were also able to take photos with Scooby-Doo if they contributed a donation for their local animal shelter. Mutt-i-grees teacher and national peer trainer Barbara Aragon says the entire Fenton community had a great time. "We had so much fun! It was our team spirit that really got us inspired."


What's Happening at Mutt-i-grees Schools & Libraries Around the Country

Orion Township Public Library Launches Mutt-i-grees Club

After a visit to Middle Country Public Library (MCPL), the national pilot site for Mutt-i-grees in the Library, last year, Debra Reflor, head of youth services at Orion Township Public Library, decided to bring Mutt-i-grees to her library in Michigan. Drawing on inspiration from MCPL and with help from youth librarian, Linda Pannuto, she started a Mutt Club to provide real-life experiences and community connections through programs based on humane education with a focus on Mutt-igrees.

At their first meeting, children heard a story, Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs, by Michael Muntean, and then used unmatched, unloved socks to create Mutt-i-gree sock puppets using felt and hot glue. They learned how something that might be perceived as unwanted could be transformed into something cute and loveable! The Library has offered a variety of Mutt-i-grees programs so far this year, including Doggone Readers, a weekly program where children are able to read to Maggie, the library's therapy dog, and Draw a Dog, where a local artist showed children how to use the eyes and nose to capture the expression of a dog.


Mutt-i-gree Mentorship Touches All Involved at Holy Family School

"What fun!" one 7th grade student exclaimed after teaching a Mutt-i-grees lesson to first graders at Holy Family School in Ashland, KY. Twenty-two 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students are going into the classrooms of kindergarten, first, and second grade students to present 30 minute Mutt-i-grees lessons each week as part of a mentoring/leadership program which was designed by their religion coach, language arts teacher, and Norma Meek, Mutt-i-grees educational consultant. The mentors learned about the five themes of the Curriculum and how to prepare a teaching session. Model lessons were presented to each grade. They each received a packet containing their schedule, the lessons they would be responsible for, and ways to engage young children in the classroom. You will find them sitting at lunch, at recess, and even scheduling time in the evening to prepare for their 30 minute session each week. The response has been overwhelmingly in favor of the program and everyone participating is a winner. "It's the best part of the day!" according to one kindergarten child.


Meet Ruff, Randall Library's Mutt-i-gree Mascot!

Randall Library in Stow, MA, has a new mascot, and his name is Ruff! Patrons can check him out for a week and show him their daily lives. He has already traveled to Vermont and has met some friendly dogs and cats. And, of course, he's read a lot of great books! Follow Ruff's Adventures on the library's website as he travels to the homes of Randall Library's patrons.


Behind the Scenes

Caring for Animals May Correlate with Positive Traits in Young Adults

Did you know that young adults who care for an animal may have stronger social relationships and connection to their communities? According to a paper published recently in Applied Developmental Science by Megan Mueller, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and research assistant professor at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, young adults who cared for animals reported engaging in more "contribution" activities, such as providing service to their community, helping friends or family, and demonstrating leadership than those who did not. The study also found that high levels of attachment to an animal in late adolescence and young adulthood were positively associated with feeling connected with other people, having empathy, and feeling confident. To read more about this study, please visit:
http://now.tufts.edu/news-releases/caring-animals-may-correlate-positive-traits-young-adults.


Yale 21C Highlighted in New Study

The School of the 21st Century, which includes the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum as one of its components, is highlighted in a new study by Child Trends. It was one of nine national models for integrated student support services included in the study. For more information, please visit:
http://www.childtrends.org/?publications=making-the-grade-assessing-the-evidence-for-integrated-student-supports.


How You Show You Care

In January, we asked you to share your favorite way to show you care or how the children you work with show they care. Those who responded received a Mutt-i-grees gift package, pictured at right.

Here are the top four responses:

"I show my students that I care by helping them with their social/emotional problems. Always being there for them to talk to is one of the biggest ways I show that I care. My students show that they care by greeting others with big smiles and lots of hugs!"
- Social worker, Norwalk, CT

"Students have taken field trips to area animal shelters, armed with plenty of gently used blankets and towels. The advantage with that is we're upcycling, and that shows the kids something else they can do to help their community. The whole thing is pretty empowering, especially for a 6-year-old. I had one former student come back - as a high school senior if not a graduate - and drop off towels. It's nice to know that things snowball that way, that people are going to a shelter and dropping off donations themselves as a result of what we're doing here. I even had a couple of our parents send in cat carriers for the shelter!"
- 1st grade teacher, Lafayette Hill, PA

"I show I care in many ways. I listen to my third grade students when they are upset or have a problem they want to talk about. I see a lot of caring in my students. They will carry each other's book bags and help each other with their work. They will show each other how to do things in class and they love to help me with daily duties."
- 3rd grade teacher, Gatesville, NC

"I always take the time to listen to children and look them in the eye when they are talking to let them know that I do care. I think it is neat the way all the kids like to help each other when we do our crafts at storytime; it is so neat to see those kids thinking and listening and the pride they have when they get the craft made."
- Librarian, Dawson, MN

A big thank you to those of you who shared!


Coming Soon: Stay Tuned for Upcoming Mutt-i-grees Projects & Events

Mutt-i-grees Shelter Guide

Humane educators and staff at animal shelters have been asking for ways they can become involved with the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum. Many of them are already working with schools and libraries in their communities. The Animal Shelter Guide to the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum, which includes an overview of the Curriculum and activities humane educators and shelter staff may implement, will be published this month. If you are working with an animal shelter in your community and want to make sure that they receive a copy, please ask shelter staff to contact us at [email protected].


Paws Down, Tails Up with Mutt-i-grees

Paws Down, Tails Up with Mutt-i-grees is a supplement to the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum and its ancillary programs - Cats Are Mutt-i-grees 2 and Mutt-i-grees in the Library - that promotes physical fitness and social emotional learning. Maintaining physical fitness through physical activities contributes to optimal social and emotional development and improves students' behavior and their ability to learn. Students - and adults, too - who are active are better able to handle everyday stresses and challenging circumstances at school and at home.

Paws Down, Tails Up with Mutt-i-grees provides physical activities for use with, or in addition to, the lessons in the Curriculum. The activities and games included have dogs and cats as an underlying theme and were developed by students and educators in schools and afterschool programs in several states. If you are interested in learning more about Paws Down, Tails Up with Mutt-i-grees, please contact us at [email protected].


Look for us at these upcoming conferences and trainings:

April 22-24, 2014
National Catholic Education Association Convention & Expo
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
Pittsburgh, PA

May 22, 2014
Mutt-i-grees Training & Orientation
Animal League America
Port Washington, NY

Please visit our website for updates: education.muttigrees.org/professional-development.


We extend our thanks to all who contributed to this issue. If you would like to contribute to the next issue, please contact us at [email protected].

Questions or comments? We want to hear from you! Please contact us at [email protected].