Hertford County, N.C. – Zip, Zeke and Everest are far from your ordinary reading tutors.
They’re furry, they lay down on the job and they are illiterate. Yet the trio is igniting a passion for reading at Riverview Elementary School in Hertford County, North Carolina.
That’s because the three are trained therapy dogs and part of a push to improve reading scores.
Sue Hunter, a speech therapist at the elementary school, started the Riverview River Barkers program after a challenge from the school’s principal to think outside the box to improve the scores.
“The kids will come in and they will read one on one with the dogs because the dogs are not judgmental, the dogs just think that it’s the greatest thing that there is someone there reading to them,” Hunter explained.
Test scores have improved at Riverview and children all across the building look forward to the bi-monthly visits from the dogs.
“We will get kids going – it’s my turn, it’s my turn, when do I get to come read,” Hunter said.
NewsChannel 3 wanted to help the River Barkers Take Action and Get Results for the reading program.
So before our visit, we stocked up on brand new children’s books – enough to give every one of the school’s 60 kindergarten students two brand new books of their very own!
“To watch those children when they opened the backpacks and everything – their faces were Christmas,” Hunter said. “[I] just couldn’t tell you how much we all appreciate what you did- our children don’t get things like that.”