rescue readers

Rescue Readers at Humane Society Hastings Prince Edward
Posted on 06/21/2024
Rescue Readers with banner

For some students, reading out loud can be difficult. What better way to practice than with a non-judgmental furry friend who is always happy to listen. That’s what students from schools from across Hastings and Prince Edward counties have been doing at the Humane Society Hastings Prince Edward with the Rescue Readers program.

On Wednesday, June 19, 2024, Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte and Ontario’s newly-appointed Education Minister, joined Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board Director of Education, Katherine MacIver, local Rotary Club presidents and students from Belleville’s Queen Elizabeth School to celebrate the expansion of the shelter’s Rescue Readers program. The Rescue Readers program has recently received support from the Rotary Clubs of Belleville and Trenton and discussions are now underway with Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board about ways to deliver the program to more classes in the future.

Students of Laura Brown-Bowers’ Grade 3/4 class excitedly clutched the letters they had written to the animals and artwork that they had created to show their furry friends. They also brought a cart of books to read. After a group photo that included some playful kittens and a puppy, they toured the facility and then got to choose whether they would like to read to a cat, a rabbit or a dog.Student reads to a curious kitten

Teacher Laura Brown-Bowers said that while this program is good for increasing literacy, what really stands out to her is how it helps students with their confidence to read out loud and with fluency.

She explains, “Especially for those who have a tough time reading in front of others, there have been very sweet moments of kids being more relaxed.” She also emphasized how much this has helped students to develop empathy for the animals. For example, a student who was once afraid of dogs, now looks forward to reading to his canine friend.

Director of Education Katherine MacIver says is in full support. “HPEDSB is thrilled to see a pioneer program develop into a partnership with the school board, Rotary and the HPE Humane Society to support students and their learning,” she said.