Project Dog

The Problem

As an "identified" student, on a spectrum so broad is spans from severely developmentally delayed to gifted, I felt I was always placed in a program or activity that did not truly reflect me. As a gifted student it seemed as though the only enrichment programs offered were those involving building robots or writing. As a student who was also heavily involved with special needs students, I saw that their abilities were often underestimated. Finally, as a student who had many friends who often skipped class or hated school, I saw their creative minds labelled as "trouble". Seeing such potential seemingly go unseen, I knew I needed to create an adaptable program that would bring out the best in any student.

Plan of Action

Project Dog is still a work in progress due to obstacles put in place by my local school board. However, initially I studied the current Learning Strategies curriculum and created specific lesson plans revolving around the criteria of the course. A teacher's guide was compiled, including magazine articles, student handouts and tips for the teacher. The program was passed to the Guidance Department head, who never read it. Discouraged, I placed the package in a drawer. Months later when I met a more supportive teacher, I had her read over it. She fell in the love with the concept and worked diligently to have it put in place in my high school. Sadly, due to a strict "No Dog" policy, we were unable to implement it. I have since been doing research on how to get around the issue, with out using trained service dogs. Though the program has yet to help an individual student, I have impacted several teachers and administrators at my former high school and have opened their eyes to non-traditional options for kids needing something more than the "usual". I have also caught the attention of an adult educator at Loyalist College.

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