Elementary school is always fun and exciting, but when certain special guests appear at Blackburn Elementary School, loving to learn takes on a whole new meaning!
These are not your normal ‘special guests’ that visit elementary schools and talk with children about math, science, art or social studies. These visitors make things much more interesting and exciting!
That’s because when Stella and Charlie show up at Blackburn Elementary, everyone gives them their full attention!
Stella is a chicken and Charlie is a Saint Bernard and family members of Suzanne Hart, a Special Education Inclusion Paraprofessional at Blackburn Elementary School.
Two years ago, Hart started bringing Stella, a baby chick at the time, to school on a few occasions. These visits were centered on education programs involving life cycles, but sometimes she also visited with some of the special education classes.
What Hart discovered was that Stella was a huge hit. She eventually began visiting some of the upper grade classrooms as well when they started learning about behavioral traits. Since her first visit, Stella has grown to an adult chicken so Hart added to the chicken family. Today when Stella visits, Hart also brings one of the eggs Stella has laid and a few of her baby chicks. She is now known as Stella the School Chicken and continues to add real-life experiences to the lessons being taught while uplifting the students!
With Stella being such a big hit with the students in the school, Hart had the idea last year to bring her Saint Bernard service dog, Charlie to school as well.
Charlie only gets to visit the students once a year, usually near the last day of school before the Christmas Break. The idea came to Hart about bringing Charlie when the Elf on the Shelf craze began to have pets. Hart discovered that one of the pets owned by the Elf on the Shelf was a Saint Bernard.
"I thought, this would be a great experience for the students here," Hart said. “So, I bought the book, ran the idea by the administration and was given approval for Charlie to come to school.”
Charlie’s purpose is to keep the magic of Christmas alive in the hearts of the younger kids. But, since Charlie is a Saint Bernard, and a rather large dog, Hart wanted to make sure that parents were comfortable being around Charlie. Permission slips were completed and Charlie began to come to school to join in the learning process with students at Blackburn.
He sits in the classroom with the students during the reading of the Elf Pets story time. Charlie makes his way from kindergarten to third grade classrooms, bringing joy to every student that gets to share story time with him.
The response has been tremendous and now even the fourth grade classes have asked if Charlie can come to their rooms. Charlie made his official visit to the school on Thursday, Dec. 20 last year!
“There are some amazing things happening here at Blackburn Elementary and our students are learning and responding to the experiences they receive,” Hart noted. “It’s amazing to work with a staff and a school district that is open to, supports and encourages new experiences for our students!”