When students have a problem or situation they can't get resolved on their own, they have the option of filling out a quick form and dropping it in a locked box on the door of the counseling room at school. These issues can be anything from a fight with a friend, a disagreement with a teacher, parent or other adult, or a death in the family. I do have students request on the form that I see them on a day when Copper is working. I try my best to make that happen.
The counseling room can become a place where bad news is shared with students. These times are not planned but the adults involved sense that the supports provided in that moment were better than other places or times. I have had parents share that they were getting a divorce or that the family was facing homelessness. Students have also been informed that there was a death in the family or they are being placed in foster care. Copper has been present when this news is shared. He seems to sense whom in the room needs his attention. At times, he will move over to the adult who is trying to communicate bad news and simply sits next to them while they pet his head and scratch him behind his ears. Kids will often sit on the floor next to him and pet him or do something a little more active like hiding a toy and asking him to find it. Each occasion is different than the prior one.
Copper and I are posted at the front of the school each Monday morning to greet students and their families. I need to start gathering data to see if we do have a higher percentage of students use the cross-walk and look both ways before crossing.
After school on Tuesdays we have Tiger Tutors. This program builds leadership and mentor skills in our 4th and 5th graders. They are matched to a younger student to help with homework or basic academic skills. Copper attends these sessions. He and I go from table to table. Often the students will explain what work they are completing or they will ask to read to him.
One of the first phrases I hear from our ELA students is, "Can I pet your dog?" I recently recieved several letters in my mail at school from these outstanding students. They had been working on writing letters and although they arrived in my mail, they were all addressed to Copper. As I sat down that evening reading Copper his mail, I thought about how much more meaningful it would be if the students' themselves had the opportunity to read their work directly to him. I can't wait to get this new program off the ground.
Copper and I are members of the district psychological response team. Copper showed an amazing ability to work with students and staff in times of crisis. Some of the work he has done was in response to student deaths and flood victims. He was able to interact with kids that were not responding to human members of our team. I wanted to get further training in this area and found HOPE AACR. It is a fantastic organization that screens and trains teams for this work. HOPE offers their services for no cost. They are a volunteer organization. Please see their website for further information. www.hopeaacr.org