North Texas school teaches social emotional learning through help of one special dog

BEDFORD, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — When it comes to your child’s education, social emotional learning is fundamental.

That’s why Bell Manor Elementary School in Bedford is making sure to teach social awareness, responsibility and self-control through the help of one special dog.

Baxter is an English cream golden retriever and is also an employee of the school. His job? To comfort everyone he meets.

North Texas school teaches social emotional learning through help of one special dog
Baxter the honorary Bobcat

CBS 11 News

And though he belongs to the HEB school district, speech language pathologist McKayla Morton takes care of him when he’s not on the job.

“Its weird. He can sense things when a student is upset,” Morton said.

She says Baxter really shines in classes with students.

“Sometimes I see him in speech. Whenever I feel nervous, I can pet him,” one student said.

Principal Keri McCarty believes Baxter is one of—if not the first—permanent campus comfort dogs in North Texas.

“It’s definitely a first for our campus and our district,” McCarty said. “It’s something we have been working towards for the last couple of years.”

Monday through Thursday, Baxter attends speech and counseling lessons at the school. And on Fridays, teachers sign up for reward time with him.

Sometimes Baxter even joins in on recess, where students line up one by one to get in a few good pets.

“Every day when I see him, he makes me happy and brings me excitement,” another student said.

School staff says just within just a matter of weeks, they can already tell a difference in their students.

“I think there’s just so many benefits to a dog. Emotionally, physically, just for a child’s wellbeing,” Morton said.

And McCarty thinks Baxter is a staff morale booster as well. So much so that she hopes more schools will consider adding a dog to their faculty, too.

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