RFH Purchases Therapy Dog

May 25th, 2016



RFH Purchases Therapy Dog to Enhance Student Life and Learning

RFH therapy dog Violet gets to know staff member/handler Victoria Vaughan, with whom she will reside.


Rumson – An adorable “golden-doodle” headed to class at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School on May 16th.

Violet, a golden retriever/poodle mix born on March 7th students in the Multiply Disabled (MD) program. The MD program features a self-contained classroom for students who require special education and related services.

Board of Education members Lisa Waters and Annie McGinty organized the purchase, made possible by contributions from private donors. Private donations will continue to be used for training and additional items as needed.

Interest in a therapy dog for RFH students was sparked when Principal Dr. Tracy Handerhan, Vice Principal Stephen Sarles, and Supervisor of Special Services Carol Krsyzckowski attended a presentation about the Highlands School therapy dog (“Hudson”). The group was extremely impressed and shared the information with other staff members. Soon after, a visit by local therapy dog “Savannah” and her handler Pamela Marcellus was arranged by teacher Jennifer Dellett and Instructional Aide Victoria Vaughan.

“Savannah’s visit to the classroom at RFH went extremely well,” said Dellett. “Students that had never read aloud were suddenly volunteering to read poetry and short stories.”

“Savannah created a level of comfort that could arguably come only from a therapy dog.”

Violet arrived “home” May 13th to the residence of Vaughan, who volunteered to serve as staff member/handler. Next up is Violet’s training – consisting of puppy school, good citizen school, and therapy dog school.

Violet will be a daily presence in the MD classroom, where students will work with their teachers and the handler to help care for her and take ownership – promoting independence and life skills. The dog will also foster a comfortable and therapeutic environment in which students – for example, at-risk readers – can enhance their learning skills.

Krsyzckowski notes that the introduction of a therapy dog will greatly benefit not only the MD students but the rest of the RFH population as well.

“Extensive research has found that a therapy dog increases mental stimulation, acceptance, and empathy along with countless other benefits,” she said. “Therapy dogs have been shown to enhance personal well-being, achievement, and overall happiness.”

“A therapy dog can positively impact every person it comes into contact with.”



Mary Ann Kampfe, RFHRHS Press Release Writer

mkampfe@rumsonfairhaven.org or 908-347-8885