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Academy’s Newest Hire: Community Dog, Nelson

Nelson lavishes among tennis balls and other toys. (Courtesy/Paws With a Cause)

For the past five years, Ms. Brelle Farrenkopf has worked with Paws With a Cause, a nonprofit that trains assistance dogs, and our school’s administration to secure a community dog for Academy. During the May 8 assembly, the announcement that an accomplishment had been reached made upper schoolers applaud with thrilling support and enthusiasm.

The Farrenkopf family will undertake the dog as its home provider. The Farrenkopfs knew the dog’s name, Oxford, needed to change. The family already had an Oscar. After crowdsourcing names from our Explorers to seniors, faculty, and staff, the handlers handpicked “Nelson,”a male yellow lab, from over 700 submissions, honoring Academy’s former Nelson Road campus. Some other highlights include “Doggy Parton,” “Kareem Abdul Jabark,” and “Pierogi.”

Through the Milt Taylor Professional Development Grant, available to all faculty, Mrs. Farrenkopf and Ms. Brooks obtained Nelson’s funding for his fall start on campus. When at school, Ms. Farrenkopf, Ms. Brooks, and Mr. Farrenkopf will manage him in the lower, middle, and upper School divisions, respectively.

Students should expect the dog’s presence at school events, counseling sessions, classrooms, and more. Nelson may be a staff member, but he will also act as a student by serving at morning drop-off, getting read to by lower-schoolers, and attending Forest Fridays. When students require emotional regulation or something to lean on, Nelson can lend a paw.

Although Paws With a Cause provides comprehensive training, Nelson requires more training within Academy’s confines to perform his job well. He will undergo his own version of faculty orientation through a 12-week training curriculum to ensure he understands CA is his workplace and not his home and, thus, can provide proper support.

Those allergic to or anxious around dogs should not worry as the school will implement protocols for how to avoid Nelson, with guidance from Paws With a Cause.

Thanks to Ms. Farrenkopf, Ms. Brooks, and Mr. Farrenkopf for assisting in the hiring of Columbus Academy’s newest faculty member.


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