Education / Featured / 9th November 2023
Fur real? Coona High’s new mascot
Over the last few months, Coonabarabran High School students have welcomed a new face to the school – one with four legs and a wagging tail!
The school’s new support dog, Bear, has been welcomed by the school community with open arms, as the new companion animal makes a positive impact with both students and staff.
Coona High teacher, Dr Michael Armstrong said although many people might be tempted to call Bear a ‘therapy dog’, this gentle golden retriever is much more than that.
“Bear is our ‘wellbeing’ and ‘companion’ dog, carefully selected to support students and staff emotionally,” Dr Armstrong said.
“Guided by his handler, Bear is here to make a difference in the lives of our school community.”
Dr Armstrong said the benefits of having a school dog had been well-documented, with studies showing that the presence of a dog during stressful times can significantly reduce anxiety.
“With Bear around, we aim to create a more relaxed and conducive learning environment, as 92 per cent of students have reported feeling calmer during teaching and learning sessions when a dog is by their side,” he said.
The school’s canine companion has also led to improved attendance rates, as students eagerly anticipate interacting with Bear every day.
“Many students who may have struggled with communication find solace in Bear, fostering connections that were otherwise challenging to establish.”
Bear has also provided support to students dealing with trauma, significant loss or grief, providing a compassionate presence to comfort students through emotionally challenging times.
Dr Armstrong said Bear also taught students an important lesson on the value of responsibility and empathy, as students learn to care for him, ultimately aiding in their personal growth and leadership skills.
“In this flexible and adaptable approach, Bear is set to make a paw-sitive impact on our school’s emotional and educational landscape.”
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