Grant putting pets in the classroom

Courtesy Photo PSA student Josh Mershon receiving “help” from Atom.

By Joseph Pratt

[email protected]

The Pet Care Trust’s Pets in the Classroom grant program will begin accepting applications for the 2015-16 school year beginning August 1.

The grant encompasses a large demographic of students, and any classroom between the grades of pre-kindergarten through eighth can apply. The grant is also open for public or private schools, and the classroom applying may already have a pet and still qualify.

The Pet Care Trust claim that they support the program because of the many different positive outcomes from having a classroom pet. According to information they provided, classroom pets aid in improving school attendance, encourage nurturing, build self esteem, promote empathy, teach responsibility, stimulate learning, enrich the classroom experience, and allows the students to become friends with the animals.

Portsmouth STEM Academy (PSA) was a recipient of a similar grant last year and was able to purchase a pet rabbit for their students. In their time with the pet, they’ve proven it isn’t always bad to be a teacher’s pet.

“We love our pet rabbit, Atom. He is very loving and the students care for and cuddle with the bunny,” STEM Principal Megan Warnock said. “Atom has a calming affect on students as the concentrate on school work or while they read a book. Atom has become a loved member of the PSA family,”

Warnock said that Atom has also been a learning experience for the students as well.

“The students are learning about the responsibility of pet care, as well as teaching our rabbit to be litter box trained,” Warnock explained. “This year the students will be engineering a bunny mansion for Atom.”

The Pet Care Trust has aided in over 56,600 grants and nearly 2 million children. Past grant recipients are not eligible to receive funding for a new classroom pet, but are welcoming to apply for the sustaining grant, which provides up to $50 to maintain an existing classroom pet.

With a goal of introducing 5 million children in 100,000 classrooms to pets and the benefits they provide, the Pet Care Trust hopes to help teachers impact future generations through its grant program. The program was established by the Pet Care Trust with the knowledge that, while they are a valuable teaching tool, many teachers have very limited resources for the support of classroom animals.

Through the grant program, teachers have the option to obtain a pet through one of the program’s participating stores— Petco, Petsmart, Pet Supermarket, Pet Supplies Plus, Petland, and Petland Discounts – or to purchase their pet through a local pet store through a rebate grant.

The Pet Care Trust provides eight different types of grants. Each school and teacher has the opportunity to choose which grant is right for their students through a direct, no-hassle grant application on the Pets in the Classroom website

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.

Courtesy Photo PSA student Josh Mershon receiving “help” from Atom. Photo PSA student Josh Mershon receiving “help” from Atom.
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