Woodstock News

At Woodstock Elementary School, D is for Dog

What’s a four-legged, tail-wagging bundle of fun doing at Woodstock Elementary School? Becoming a valuable, well-loved addition to the school community, of course!

Tank, a 22-pound certified therapy dog owned by Onteora Occupational Therapist Michele Darling, began visiting the school in January.

What’s a four-legged, tail-wagging bundle of fun doing at Woodstock Elementary School? Becoming a valuable, well-loved addition to the school community, of course!

Tank, a 22-pound certified therapy dog owned by Onteora Occupational Therapist Michele Darling, began visiting the school in January. On his first day of school, the ebullient Boston terrier was the guest of honor at several grade-level assemblies. “First we talked to the students about how to introduce yourself to a dog and to let him sniff you to get to know you,” Ms. Darling recalled. “Then we talked specifically about Tank.” 

              Ms. Darling, who adopted Tank in June, had him certified through TDI (Therapy Dogs International) to ensure he would interact safely with children. “He had to pass a test, and I had to pass a written test,” she explained.

In addition to being friendly, patient, and gentle, therapy dogs should not startle easily, she noted. Tank, she reported, passed the TDI test with flying colors. “He loves kids, and he loves people,” she said. “He also loves to ride on my motorcycle.”

When Tank is at school—approximately once a week—his presence is announced by a poster emblazoned with the message “Tank is in the house!” (The message on the flip side of the poster says “Tank is home resting.”) The excitement in the building on the days when Tank is visiting is palpable, Ms. Darling said.

So far, most of Tank’s appearances outside of the Occupational Therapy room have taken place during recess or at lunchtime. “We also use him as a reward for good behavior, and to comfort children if they need it,” Ms. Darling said. When a child recently tripped and fell, for example, Tank quickly managed to banish the student’s tears.

Katie, a Grade 3 student, is one of Tank’s many fans. “He’s so adorable!” she exclaimed while petting the pooch during a recent visit with Ms. Darling. Katie, like the rest of the student population, has learned that when Tank is happy, he makes a low guttural sound—much like a purring cat. “The kids love it when they pet him in just the right spot and get his happy sound!” Ms. Darling said.

 Proof of Tank’s popularity is also evidenced by the many dog-inspired drawings displayed near Ms. Darling’s room. Many children who had previously been afraid of dogs now count Tank as a friend, according to Ms. Darling.

Therapy dogs have been shown to have a range of benefits in educational settings, Ms. Darling noted.  Among these benefits are helping to reduce stress and anxiety, and increasing children’s excitement about attending school.

“We are still new at having a therapy dog so we don’t know what direction we will go with him, but right now the main thing that I can say is that he definitely puts a smile on the kids’ faces when they walk in the door,” Ms. Darling concluded. “I can also tell you that Tank loves to come to school and is always in a good mood (but exhausted) after a school day.”

Picture of Tank with Students

 

Picture of Tank and Student
Important Information About Student Meals and the Government Shutdown

The Onteora Food Service Department would like to make families impacted by the recent government shutdown (and all families with financial hardship for any reason) aware of important information regarding assistance you may be entitled to. If your income has been reduced or eliminated (even if only on a temporary basis), your children may be eligible for free or reduced-price breakfasts and/or lunches at school... select the headline above to download the application.

The Onteora Food Service Department would like to make families impacted by the recent government shutdown (and all families with financial hardship for any reason) aware of important information regarding assistance you may be entitled to. If your income has been reduced or eliminated (even if only on a temporary basis), your children may be eligible for free or reduced-price breakfasts and/or lunches at school. You can download the application for free and reduced-price meals on the District website. 

For an application in English, please click on https://bit.ly/2WgfxhH
For an application in Spanish, please click on https://bit.ly/2WleXyV

We will review all applications within 24 hours of receiving them to provide immediate assistance. Any child approved for free or reduced-price meals will remain eligible for the remainder of the school year. Please do not hesitate to call Director of Food Services Christine Downs at 845-657-2373 x2181 with any questions you may have. We are here to help you in any way we can. Thank you.

District Enhances Security with New Visitor Management System

In light of the enhanced focus on safety and security in our schools, we are writing to let you know that we will begin using a new visitor management system in all of our schools starting in September. Part of keeping students and faculty safe is knowing who is in our buildings at all times, and our new system will enable us to do that.

In light of the enhanced focus on safety and security in our schools, we are writing to let you know that we will begin using a new visitor management system in all of our schools starting in September. Part of keeping students and faculty safe is knowing who is in our buildings at all times, and our new system will enable us to do that. This system will better allow us to screen visitors, contractors, and volunteers in our schools and will provide us with a safer environment for our students and staff
 
Upon entering a District building, visitors will be asked to present a government-issued ID such as a driver's license, which can either be scanned or manually entered into the system. If a visitor does not have a U.S. government-issued ID, the school staff member can use any form of identification and manually enter the person's name and birthdate into the system.
 
The new system checks the visitor's name and date of birth for comparison with a national database of registered sex offenders. The registered sex offender database is the only official database checked by the new system. No other data from the ID is gathered or recorded, and the information is not shared with any outside agency. 

Once entry is approved, the system will issue a badge that identifies the visitor, date, and purpose of the visit. At the conclusion of the visit, the visitor will return the badge to the office and will be checked out through the new system. This system will allow us to account for all visitors in the event of an emergency. 

A visitor's badge will not be necessary for those who visit our schools simply to drop off an item/paperwork in the main office of our Elementary Schools or at the kiosk at the Middle High School, or to drop of£'pick up students.

At the time of your initial visit, the registration process will only take a few moments. During return visits, the process will be even quicker.

If the system does not provide clearance, a school administrator will be called to ensure the appropriateness of the individual's visit. 
The safety of our students is our highest priority, and the new system will allow us to quickly identify those who may present a danger to our students. Thank you in advance for your understanding, and for your support of our efforts to enhance the school safety protocols of our District. 


Visitor Management Letter - Chinese

Visitor Management Letter - Spanish