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CHSD170 Hosts Black Lab Echo in Support of Its SEL Curriculum

Students from Chicago Heights School District 170's Pre-Kindergarten Program and Lincoln-Gavin School welcomed Echo, a Black Lab mix from Landheim Training and Boarding Center of Dyer, Indiana, as a supplement to the district-implemented Mutt-i-grees Curriculum.

According to its website, the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum is "an innovative Pre-K to Grade 12 social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum. It uses the natural affinity between children and pets to teach skills critical to academic success and successful life."

Included among those skills were empathy, resiliency, self-confidence, teamwork, and awareness of oneself and others in the world. Each one is a skill that will help the students to create a more humane future.

Kenyea Beach and Mary Ellen LaCien, the coordinators of the district's SEL Program, arranged the activity to provide students with an opportunity to learn basic rules of interaction with a dog. The rules included asking for permission to pet the dog, the correct ways to pet the dog, and how to "be a tree (stand still)" when confronted by a loose dog.

Trainer Sara Hunt had Echo demonstrate how he listens for commands and follows instructions and discussed his role in detecting bed bugs. The session ended with the students being allowed to pet Echo after receiving permission.

"We used stories and activities about dogs as a catalyst for learning," Beach explained. "We truly were fortunate to have Echo and Sara meet with our students to share with us the different ways in which we might positively affect our world."

Trainer Sara Hunt had Echo demonstrate how he listens for commands and follows instructions and discussed his role in detecting bed bugs. The session ended with the students being allowed to pet Echo after receiving permission.

"We used stories and activities about dogs as a catalyst for learning," Beach explained. "We truly were fortunate to have Echo and Sara meet with our students to share with us the different ways in which we might positively affect our world."

"The children loved meeting Echo! It was such a fun experience," said Pre-K teacher Kelly Jacobson while speaking of the activity..

"The Pre-k students fully enjoyed the hands-on experience, and each child had a smile on their face as they were able to interact with and pet Echo."

"The Mutt-a-Gree social-emotional curriculum has been extremely beneficial for the Pre-K classroom," Jacobson noted.