The Pets in the Classroom grant program has enabled the Danville Community School District in Danville, Iowa to acquire Charlie, a bearded dragon. Cha
The Pets in the Classroom grant program has enabled the Danville Community School District in Danville, Iowa to acquire Charlie, a bearded dragon. Charlie has become a welcome representative at At-Risk teacher/coordinator Ms. Krekel’s class for nearly three years and has interacted with kids ranging from kindergarten to grade 12 and it has all been positive.
"The kids in my room are K-12, so there are different ages in and out all of the time," said Krekel. "Charlie has been utilized as an ice breaker for new kids in my room who might be scared, unsure, or untrusting of someone new in their life (me as a teacher), and often acts as a de-stresser if you will for kids who need a break from stress at school or in their lives."
Krekel and Charlie have taught children important life traits such as empathy and kind-heartedness as well as responsibility. Krekel says that the kids learn how to care for Charlie, including feeding him, changing things in his cage and keeping his cage clean.
"My kids of all ages view him as something they can connect with and many of them do not have pets at home," said Krekel. "I try to make my room one where the kids always feel welcomed and loved no matter their past, grades, status, etc. Charlie is just one more way for me to do that. It has been cool to see kids who come into my room who are students of the school but not necessarily ones that I work with and hear them be excited and inquisitive about Charlie. It is in these instances that I get to see my students spring into action "introducing" Charlie and explaining things about him and how he's "our" dragon. Their spirits seem to lift when he is in our room, and they have such positive interactions when they are around him and dealing with him that they might not normally have otherwise."
Pets in the Classroom, which started in 2009, aims to put 30,000 pets in classrooms throughout the United States. The program sponsorship includes $150 for an aquarium with fish, $150 for a reptile, and $100 for a small animal like a hamster bird or guinea pig. For more information on the program, visit www.PetsintheClassroom.org