Granton School
Brings in a Helping Paw


Shelly Schmitz and Bentley 2022

Granton Area School District guidance counselor Shelly Schmitz and Bentley will be working hand in paw
to make students’ lives better through “paws”itive programs in the school and during daily activities.
Jesse Heslip/Clark County Press. 

By Jesse Heslip 

Shelly Schmitz loves helping kids and as the guidance counselor of the Granton Area School District, she gets plenty of opportunities to do just that. Recently, she has a new addition pitching in to help. Bentley, her golden retriever, has been approved by the school board to assist Schmitz with in-school counseling and other activities.

The Schmitz family has had Bentley in their lives since she was a puppy, so for five years she has been proving that she has what it takes to be a cut above the rest.

 “I saw the way she was able to pick up cues with my own son. She was just there for him when he was feeling down [and] she has the ability to pick up on that,” Schmitz stated.

Recently Bentley had a chance to prove her ability as a school service dog by passing certifications involving things like not taking treats from a stranger, not jumping up on people and not picking up items even when she’s interested in them, among others. Bentley passed with flying colors and has had her first couple of appearances at the school.

“I am working with the librarian to set up a reading program with Bentley a couple times a month so she can interact with the students,” Schmitz said.

This program is new, so the school is still working out details about exactly how Bentley and her skill set will be put to work. But even in the short time she’s been around the students, Schmitz has seen a difference in their demeanor.

“I am seeing smiles on faces that didn’t always smile. I’m seeing faces light up. I love seeing the excitement on all the kids’ faces,” Schmitz stated.

In the coming weeks, the school will send home a survey for parents regarding Bentley, as a means to identify students who have allergies or a fear of dogs, as well as a few other items of discussion being worked out. Schmitz will also bring her to each classroom for introduction and instruction for the students when dealing with Bentley.

Bentley joins a long list of dogs that have been put in positions at schools. The research is young but looks promising. One study from the National Institutes of Health found that having a dog in the classroom promotes a positive atmosphere and decreased levels of stress.

Schmitz having Bentley on scene when she is interacting one-on-one with students will undoubtedly have a positive influence on the students overall.

“When they sit down and she is there for them, they are instantly smiling and because of that their guard is down,” Schmitz said. The whole environment is positive, and Bentley is able to help with that.

Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

April 6, 2022

Transcribed by Dolores M. Kenyon, April 8, 2022.

Web page by James W. Sternitzky PhD, April 9, 2022. 

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