Cathy Roemer-Garrison is always looking out for innovative ways to teach. She’s an English as a Second Language instructor at Moss Middle School in Warren County.
"I came across on the Internet something about children reading to shelter animals, and that the research showed it was successful at improving reading fluency and building self-esteem, which is a perfect fit for my ELL kids," explained Roemer-Garrison.
She took the idea to Principal David Nole, who admits he was skeptical at first.
"I thought, 'How's that going to improve what we're doing?' The more I listened the more I realized she was going about the heart of the reader, and that's just developing the love to read," Nole said.
And so it began. An initiative called Paw Pals: Literacy with Love. Every Wednesday, Roemer-Garrison visits the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society with a group of ELL students, or English Language Learners. Most are from war-torn countries, but at the shelter, those memories are overcome with smiles and laughter.
On this visit, a shelter employee brings out eight-week-old long-haired Chihuahuas.
Seventh graders Graciella Ventura of El Salvador, and Soe Meh and Bway Baw both of Thailand, sit in a circle, each holding a puppy and a book. Storytime is about to begin. Ventura has a wide grin as one of the puppies licks her face.