Service Dog PALMER Inspires Students at Pine Valley Elementary

PALMER has an important job at Pine Valley Elementary School (PVES). Every day, she works to conduct reading interactions with at-risk students, provide emotional support to students who have experienced trauma or have anxiety and helps to motivate general education pupils. Unlike most dogs, she carries a dual certification from paws4people as both a Medical Alert Assistant Dog and Canine Assisted Education Facility Dog. Handler and 5th-grade teacher, Mark McCann believes the relationship PALMER has with the students could inspire them to be successful in the future.
“All of my students see PALMER every day in our classroom and benefit from the calming effect she has on them,” McCann said. “She is also used to motivate them to do their best while providing non-judgmental support in their academic endeavors.”
Director and Professor at the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, Dr. Chris Lantz has worked closely with PVES for years. He has been essential in connecting PVES to the paws4people program. He has also invited students at PVES to UNCW to give them a glimpse at college life. For some, it is the first time they have ever considered pursuing higher education.
“[Lantz’s] strong partnership with us has influenced many of our students to look at college as a viable option in their future,” McCann said. “As an educator, he understands the importance of authentic experiences and provides PVES the opportunity to have our students on the UNCW campus. The CHHS trips are always a game changer for students.”

McCann is grateful for the ties the paws4people program and the School of Health and Applied Human Sciences share with PVES and the benefits his students receive from their relationship. The photo above was taken at PVES after a trip to UNCW for the Applied Science Fair. Ava Salerno, a student at PVES and member of McCann’s 5th-grade class, has a strong interest in the medical field and assistance dogs. The trip was one of the highlights of her time at the elementary school.