Dear Netcong Learning Community,
I am pleased to announce that we will be welcoming a returning staff member to the Netcong Elementary School. Starting the week of September 25, 2023, Marky Walsh will return to our school community as the district’s certified therapy dog. Marky is a certified therapy dog through The Bright and the Beautiful Therapy Dog, LLC program. Marky trained for this for more than a year and is very excited to be coming back to the Netcong School Community. The use of a therapy dog to enhance the educational program at Netcong Elementary School is in accordance with Board of Education Policy, 2560, Live Animals in School.
Numerous studies have shown that there are many benefits to having therapy dogs in schools. Some of those benefits include:
• Physical benefits. Interaction with therapy dogs has been shown to reduce blood pressure, provide physical stimulation and assist with pain management.
• Social benefits. A visiting therapy dog promotes greater self-esteem and focused interaction with other students and teachers.
• Cognitive benefits. It has been empirically proven that therapy dogs stimulate memory and problem-solving skills.
• Emotional and mental health benefits. A recent national survey of adolescent mental health found that about 8 to 10 percent of teens ages 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder. A therapy dog can lift moods in the classroom, often provoking laughter. The therapy dog is also there to offer friendship and a shoulder to lean on for students. (https://www.therapydogs.com/therapy-dogs-classrooms-campuses/).
Marky will work with students in small groups and one on one after he gets fully acclimated to the school building. He may also make short visits to classrooms and may participate in recess after everyone gets to know him. Marky will be with me as his handler at all times while at school. He will have space in my office to rest and that is where he will spend most of his time until he gets to know everyone at school.
Marky has a regular grooming schedule and will always be clean and well kempt before coming to school. He is also seen regularly by his veterinarian to ensure he is in good health and his vaccines are up to date.
For students who are allergic to dogs, we will make appropriate accommodations to ensure Marky and your child do not interact. If your child is allergic to dogs, please contact Mrs. Thompson in the Main Office to let her know so that appropriate accommodations can be put in place for your child.
If your child is afraid of dogs, rest assured that he/she will not have to work with and/or interact with Marky. Marky will only be in contact with those students and staff members who wish to work with him. If you do not want your child to participate in the therapy dog program, please contact Mrs. Thompson in the main office so that we can ensure your child does not interact with Marky.
I hope you will join us in welcoming Marky back to the Netcong School District and embrace all that he has to offer to our school community.
Kathleen E. Walsh, Superintendent