No such thing as a ruff day at school for new teachers’ pet

No such thing as a ruff day at school for new teachers’ pet

Last week, Iona welcomed 1865 students for the start of the new school year.

Today, we welcomed one more.

Meet Digger, who – along with his handler Colin – has joined the Iona community as part of the Delta Therapy Dogs project being delivered by our fabulous Iona Parents and Friends Association.

Digger will be joined by two more furry friends as part of the program – with Fluffles and Ted to make their Iona debut in the coming days.

Iona College Social Worker Megan Vardanega said the Iona therapy dog program would work alongside the work already being done in the Iona Student Hub to help students feel connected to the College.

“I had been following the idea of therapy dogs and wellbeing dogs in schools for a very long time, and we were lucky enough that the Iona P&F had some money set aside that they were looking to put towards something to benefit many students,” Mrs Vardanega said.

“Delta Dogs, with their Canine Classroom program, was a perfect fit.

“The handlers and the dogs are all very well trained, and there is exceptional support for the school around the program.

“Thanks to the Iona P&F,  we will now have three dogs and three handlers to support our students on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the year.

“Initially it will be in the library lessons of Year 5 to Year 8. Then for some of the time on those days, the dogs will be around the area of the Hub, so any students can come and say hello to the dogs.”

Mrs Vardanega said the first phase of the program was to help students develop confidence with their reading.

“At the moment, the program is just about encouraging kids to read – especially those who may be a little anxious or nervous about reading out loud to people,” she said.

“With the dogs, they can practise their reading skills with an audience that won’t judge them or worry if they stumble over a word.

“The dogs give them the experience of reading out loud without pressure or judgement.

“The option is there for the program to move into other areas of the College to support students.

“We will never be able to measure the benefits that a program like this could have on a child who needs it, but it is just another way that we seek to provide that connection for our students at the College.”