image of Scout Hillcrest Therapy Dog

Hillcrest Elementary, nestled in Crestwood School District, is witness to a remarkable metamorphosis in its educational climate and culture, attributed to a therapy dog named Scout. Under the visionary guidance of Cathy Mitera, a dedicated staff member, the school has not only embraced social-emotional learning (SEL), but also crafted a reassuring environment for students grappling with emotional management. The introduction of Scout's canine brother, Theo, in response to heightened demand, underscores their therapeutic influence. As the academic year concludes, the Hillcrest family cherishes the indelible imprint Scout has left on their community. Scout, Hillcrest Elementary's therapeutic canine, has rapidly become an indispensable part of the school's community. Students wrestling with emotional challenges find comfort and support in Scout's steady presence. Mitera, the champion behind this initiative, acknowledged the significance of fostering SEL through an innovative and engaging approach. In her commitment, she went beyond the call of duty, forming an after-school book club which employs Scout's comforting presence to facilitate conversation and provide solace to the participants. The simplicity of Scout's daily ritual - greeting students as they commence their school day - has resonated profoundly with the students, imbuing them with a sense of worth and security in their educational habitat. The impactful presence of Scout and Theo spurred the latter's inclusion in the Hillcrest family. Principal Mrs. Saad, alongside the entire Hillcrest staff, have been crucial in cultivating a nurturing ambience where students can freely express their emotions. The integration of Scout and Theo into the school's fabric has nurtured an atmosphere of empathy, comprehension, and acceptance. Hillcrest Elementary's therapy dog program is a testament to the transformative potential of animals in endorsing social and emotional welfare. Students struggling with emotional regulation find tranquility in Scout and Theo's company, which in turn promotes academic concentration and fosters healthy coping strategies. The bond that has developed between the students and their four-legged confidants is nothing short of transformative. As Hillcrest Elementary concludes its academic year, the community takes immense pride in the progressive transformations instigated by Scout and Theo, the therapy dogs. The after-school book club, a brainchild of Mitera, has been crucial in addressing student concerns, while simultaneously cultivating a supportive milieu. The students' daily warm reception by Scout and Theo instills a sense of belonging and safety. The Hillcrest family, guided by Principal Mrs. Saad, deserves recognition for their unwavering commitment towards sculpting a welcoming community. Scout and Theo's invaluable contributions to the Hillcrest family are indeed a testament to their profound and lasting impact on both students and staff.