Duke, The School Wellbeing Dog De-escalates!
Yarrabilba State Secondary College has one staff member whose sole job is to keep students happy.
Duke, The School Wellbeing Dog, is a 9 month old Labradoodle. He began attending school as a young pup with his owner and handler Shonna Napier. It was a slow start, getting Duke used to the various smells of the school, using the staircases, and meeting different people.
Three mornings a week Duke and Mrs Napier walk around the school greeting students. Faces light up and students come to pat him. He visits classrooms and plays with a small group of students during break times. He also spends time in student services hanging out with students in the cool room and helping them to “de-escalate.”
Staff are trained in how to work with Duke through the Dogs Connect Mentor Program. Staff like Mel, a teacher’s aide, who says she loves seeing the smiles on students’ faces when they see Duke. “He helps students calm down.”
After a busy week at school Duke loves to chill out in the backyard at home chewing on a bone or going for walks. Duke lives with Mrs Napier’s family and four cats who he doesn’t like very much.
By Susan Alexander (Reporter)