With their books and hearts open, Rock Hill elementary students Monday brought stories to animals without homes.
Students of The Children’s School in Rock Hill read to dogs and cats at The Humane Society of York County in Fort Mill.
“It gives them a chance to read to animals that aren’t going to judge them for missing a word,” said Heather Turner, music teacher at the school. “They also get to see the animals they are helping, and what the Humane Society does for the animals.”
Mary Beth Knapp, board chair for the Humane Society of York County, said animals calm down when children read to them.
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“It’s so helpful to the animals,” she said. “It’s what we love.”
The 3-year-old kindergarten through second-grade students spent October raising money to help one of the dogs, Shadow, get heart worm treatment. Shadow was recently adopted from the Humane Society.
As a school, the students donated more than $650 to the Humane Society, Turner said. The Children’s School has about 160 students.
The classes that raised the most were able to visit the Humane Society and meet the animals, Turner said. One class went Friday and the other went Monday.
The community service project is tied to the Rock Hill school district’s focus on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, or PBIS.
Through PBIS, Rock Hill schools no longer put their main focus on punishing bad behavior. Instead, they’re teaching students what is expected and rewarding them for following through, said Nancy Turner, director of exceptional education. The evidence-based approach is being implemented district-wide.
In each school, PBIS is tailored to the needs of students and staff.
At The Children’s School, students follow PEACE, which stands for Pride, Excellence, Attitude, Cooperation and Empathy, Turner said. When students show those characters, they are given compliment cards.
Turner said the Montessori approach at The Children’s School, a hands-on learning experience focused on peer learning and student choice, emphasizes inward motivation.
“We try to find different ways to motivate the children to go with our idea of PEACE at our school,” Turner said. “Using the word empathy is huge. (They’re) showing empathy to animals, but also showing empathy to classmates and peers and teachers.”
The Humane Society community project and trip aimed to teach students empathy by focusing on an animal’s needs, Turner said. They learned about pet care and heart worm prevention.
“This is another way to motivate the children, and teach them what empathy is, because some of them don’t know what that word means,” Turner said. “It’s been a way to teach the children other traits ... outside of reading and math, and how we can put the two together and learn some character traits as well.”
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082