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Emotional support dog joins GPHS

Jewels is ready to make a pawsitive impact on students at Grants Pass High School.

The 5-month-old black lab is training in a special education classroom right now with her owner and Special Education Assistant, Denise Locke.

“Jewels has the ability to turn a student’s day around,” Locke says. “We might not be able to get a student to share what’s bothering them all the time. Students don’t always have the skill set to identify what emotions they are feeling such as feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, confused, scared, angry, etc. However, after a few minutes with Jewels, students often demonstrate that they feel more comfortable, calm, and more capable of engaging with others around them. Students seem to totally come out of their shells around Jewels. They smile and laugh more. Almost as though they feel a better sense of purpose within the school community!” 

a woman with blonde hair kneels beside her black lab emotional support dog

SPED Educational Assistant, Denise Locke kneels beside Jewels, her 5-month-old black lab.

Special Education Teacher, Joanna Hotchkiss has noticed Jewels’ impact too. She says the students adore their furry classmate. 

“We really see a change in the atmosphere of our classroom when Jewels is here.“ Special Education Teacher, Joanna Hotchkiss says. “Many students in our program have difficulty with self-regulation skills and become overwhelmed easily. When presented with a ‘free choice time’ after working hard on an assignment or test and/or are struggling to self-regulate and need to have a ‘calming break’, students will often choose to have a break with Jewels. Often, this break (about 5-10 minutes) is just what students need to help them reset and find their calm place. It has been amazing to see our students growing overall and student behaviors have decreased significantly since
Jewels has been here this year!” 

While Jewels will spend most of her time in a SPED classroom, she will also provide emotional support to students throughout the school.