Dog inspires students to improve reading skills


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Thursdays are arguably one of the most popular days at one New Hanover County school.

At the end of the week, a small group of third grade students at Forest Hills Elementary have a special four-legged visitor they sit and read with.

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“Monty is very nice. He’s cute and he listens good,” said Stella, one of the students in the program.

Monty is a seven-year-old lab who also serves as therapy dog, and has his good citizen training.

“Even though he is not doing a lot of tricks, he’s providing a great service,” said his owner Roberta Smith.

Smith and Monty spend two-on-one time with six students for about 20 minutes each Thursday.

This is the inaugural year for the K9s for Literacy Program at this school, but educators say statics show it is successful.

“There’s been a lot of research with the K9s for Literacy Program that has helped to boost reading scores,” said instructional coach Pam Skipper.

Along with improved test results, volunteers say Monty motivates a student’s passion for learning, all while making lessons engaging.

“They have to learn all these things but it can be fun while they are doing it,” said Smith.

Not only is it enjoyable and constructive for the student, Smith says it is also a treat for Monty.

“He is so happy every week. When I tell him we’re going to see the kids, he’s just thrilled and shaking all over,” said Smith.

The school says the students who were selected to participate in this program are considered at risk, but working with Monty helps to equip them with the confidence they need to succeed.

The K9 for Literacy Program also satisfies the district’s Daily Five curriculum.