Philadelphia School Benefits From Pets in the Classroom - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Philadelphia School Benefits From Pets in the Classroom

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"You can’t really feel him because he doesn’t sink into your skin."

Yet, William Cook knows his little friend is near and so does classmate, Lance Buck.

"Thank you very much, thank you very much. If you think Karl is like, the pet I've never had,” said Buck. “He helps me because when I’m holding something that I’m supposed to be careful with."

This is exactly what teacher, Linda Graham, was hoping would happen, when she decided to make “Carl, The Bearded Dragon," part of her 4th graders' curriculum at Global Leadership Academy in West Philadelphia.

"When you are teaching all boys, because they have all that creative energy, and all their points of reference are video games, sports, music, things they enjoy, for any kid, so when you are able to find something that engages them and helps them focus, it’s something every classroom should use," said Graham.

Carl exists thanks to a grant from "Pets in the Classroom," a program that provides teachers with money to buy and keep animals in school.

"I just buy the crickets and the food," said Graham and the students cheerfully do the rest!

They bathe him and make sure his eyes are clean and of course, they feed him.

In return, Carl helps these young men in ways a reptile could never imagine.

"He calms me down. And then when I’m calm. Then my mind is clear and I focus on the test more, and then I just kind of get my answers," said Styles Ray.

"I think the fact that he is a friend, a really good one," said Meikel Simmons

Mrs. Graham says that it’s obvious when you see how the students have grown since the beginning of the school year.

"On a daily basis, they read to him. There are students who don’t like testing. They're some of the top students, but when you put a test in front of them, their mind goes blank. I found when I let them hold Carl; it gives them a positive distraction. When they do get stressed out, they talk to him, or they'll hold him or put him on the desk and make him turn around," said Graham.

Resulting in better test scores, better grades, and an overall better classroom experience for these youngsters.

If you would like to find out more about “Pets in the Classroom” grant, please visit PetsintheClassroom.org

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