Rebecca Howell
School Standards Coach
Neptune Beach Elementary
We have worked with Pawsitive Pets and READ this year to help target some of our struggling third grade readers. Our READ dog, Johnny, and his handler, Mary Hall, have come to our school once a week to work individually with 4 students each semester. The results have been encouraging. All of the students have shown gains in their reading fluency. Reading fluency is a critical skill that students need in order to comprehend as they are reading. Fluency is also a major predictor of testing success on tests such as the FCAT.

More important than the data that shows how well READ has worked for our students is seeing the effect that it has had on our students emotionally. I have seen shy students beam when they have a chance to sit down to read with Johnny. I have seen a student labeled as troublemaker show compassion. Working with our READ dog has given these students a confidence they did not have before the program.

This is the first year we have had the pleasure to work with Pawsitive Pets and READ. Everyone at our school has enjoyed the experience. Mary Hall and Johnny are a part of our school now, and students, teachers, and parents enjoy seeing them walking down the hall. Working with READ has been a wonderful experience, and we look forward to working with them again next year.

Rebecca Howell
Pauline Gonzales
Standards Coach
New Berlin Elementary
This is New Berlin’s first year and we couldn’t be more delighted to have Linda Tipton and Maggie with the Pawsitive Pets READ program at our school. For the first session (September-January) we decided to start with four third graders that were struggling with reading fluency and just quite didn’t have the confidence to read out loud. From the first day these children met Maggie, their eyes lit up and they opened up to reading in a different light. They were excited about reading and couldn’t wait for the following week. Their teachers started to notice an increase in their desire to read better. The students wanted to practice their books so that they could read it to Maggie perfectly. These students increased their reading level by at least one to two reading levels. Linda and Maggie graciously offered to also visit some of our struggling first graders. They absolutely love reading OUT LOUD to Maggie. They don’t worry about making mistakes because they are so engaged and eager. Reading out loud is something that even some adults still struggle with because we are so concerned about what mistakes we may make. Mrs. Tipton had even noticed that some of the students started helping each other. Linda always sends me an email with detailed notes on how her visit went with each and every child after every single visit. The teachers love this feedback and actually print it out to keep as a record of growth.

Linda and Maggie have started their second group of first and third graders and I’m happy to say that the magic is happening again. Although Maggie is a dog, they truly believe that she is listening attentively. Linda Tipton gives them their very own “Maggie” stuffed animal for them to practice with at home. She even prints out certificates and pictures for the students to keep at home. It’s like someone has given them a ten dollar bill when they get to wear the sticker on their shirt with Maggie’s picture that says,” I read to Maggie”. Parents and teachers can’t say enough and can’t believe that it’s absolutely free for our students. Other students that see Maggie walking in the hallways ask when they will get a chance to read to Maggie (even some of the older kids). Maggie and Linda are real celebrities at our school. Recently, we had a celebrity reader day during our literacy week and our entire second grade was able to have Linda and Maggie read with them. One of the students was absent, so her parents took her to Barnes and Noble on a Saturday so that she and her sister could read with Maggie. Linda Tipton and Maggie are a part of New Berlin’s family. I’m always talking about Maggie at home, so my husband and I went to Jacksonville’s Pet Expo to visit the Pawsitive Pets booth and to purchase calendars that would help the program.

Not only has Maggie helped increase reading levels, but most importantly this program has created an excitement and love of reading in many children. That is a lifelong tool that I wish everyone could have. I wish that every school had their very own Maggie!
Atlantic Beach Elementary
298 Sherry Drive
Atlantic Beach, Florida 32233
Dear Pawsitive Pets,

As we finish up our first session of the school year with our wonderful Mrs. Staub and her beautiful Heidi I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the program. I have had the opportunity to put a total of three students through the Reading Education Assistance Dog program and have seen a drastic improvement in their reading abilities and attitudes.

Mrs. Staub not only works one on one with my students but she has also stopped by to introduce herself and Heidi to the entire class so that they too can feel a part of the excitement. She has read aloud to my class and allowed all of the children to meet and greet Heidi. Even at seven and eight the students are learning a valuable lesson about what others can do to help someone else. They each know they have a chance to be chosen as the next participant, but may not be the student to go with Mrs. Staub and Heidi. They show maturity in their appreciation for the program even though it doesn’t necessarily include them directly.

Overall the greatest benefit that I see is that the students build self esteem and confidence when they spend time in the R.E.A.D. program. These attributes are reflected in their grades yes but most importantly in their attitudes about reading. These attitudes carry over into the classroom where other students notice a change and progress is celebrated as milestones are met. Their excitement is contagious.

I look forward to continuing the relationship I have with Mrs. Staub and Heidi for a long time. Thank you for your dedication to the program.


Allison Tabone
2nd Grade Teacher
Atlantic Beach Elementary
Susan Bevis, Lead Teacher
School #49,
Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center
At the Detention Center we have a very transient population of both boys and girls involved with the Juvenile Justice System. Our students range in age from 8-18, and the grades levels are from 4-12.

Our students do not have many positive experiences in life, especially in school. Reading to Maggie has given them the opportunity to have some time that is just for them and a special friend. They get the added benefit of practicing their reading skills, sometimes showing them off. It is a reward for those who will exhibit the patience and determination needed to improve reading. These students need immediate gratification for their efforts, and the READ team provides that.

My personal goal as an educator in this environment is to have the kids experience success while they are here, and have a positive school outlook when they leave. Our READ team has greatly contributed to that process. They also bring out qualities in the students that they sometimes keep hidden. The teachers, students and I all look forward to their visits.

Thank you for making this this fun and educational experience possible at our school.

Best Regards,
Susan Beavis
Joan Conners
Literacy Coach
Greenland Pines Elementary
We have been fortunate to have Sue Bannister and Molly work with our First Grade Inclusion Classes and At-Risk Third Graders. The First Grade Teachers have seen a marked increase in student interest and an improvement with fluency. The children love it! I tested all the at-risk third grade students in August using the state Dibels Tests. The students chosen for Pawsitive Pets are not fluent readers and do not perform at grade level expectations. Some lack motivation, some lack confidence. All the students have shown an increase in fluency rates and a noticeable change of attitude toward reading.

Children are comfortable self-correcting errors with Sue and Molly. They can take time to decode and practice the reading strategies that were learned in the classroom.

This program is amazing. It’s a consistent positive for everyone involved. Sue is so wonderfully patient with the students, and is always professional. The children have gained so much from the program, building confidence and patience with their own progress. Pawsitive Pets is wonderful and we are indeed lucky to have Sue and Molly with us here at Greenland Pines.

Joan Conners