Mary Nicoletti (Lambert High School), Scott Rucker (Rucker Dog Training), and Duck the Dog join us in a discussion about collaborating within our community to empower students in our classrooms.

Mary Nicoletti and Duck the Dog in Classroom Conversations

Mary Nicoletti (Lambert High School), Scot Rucker (Rucker Dog Training), and Duck the Dog join us in a discussion about collaborating within our community to empower students in our classrooms.

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Ashley Mengwasser: Hello. Good day. How are you? Welcome to Classroom Conversations. The platform for Georgia's teachers. I'm Ashley Mengwasser. I'm glad you're here. I'm glad I'm here. I'm really excited about what's about to happen here. We have some VIPs to thank for this podcast, which exist solely for the benefit of educators to share and learn. Classroom Conversations is presented by the Georgia Department of Education and partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting. And GPB is truly the place to be. Today in studio, I have two guests with a total of six legs. The only plausible explanations for that are either aliens. Yes, please. Or at least one of us is a different species. Today's episode is going to be popular as we discuss community classroom collaborations, collabs. We'll be looking at a rare and rewarding stress relieving program, a foot at Lambert High School in the Forsyth County School District. Here to tell us about this is guest number one, scientific name, homo sapiens. Actual name, Mary Nicoletti. Mary teaches specialized instruction at Lambert High School. For teachers, not every day is a walk in the park. But at Lambert High School, every day can involve a walk to the dog park. Faculty and students are raising the rough through a little community collaboration known as the Lambert Pack. Which brings me to guest number two, scientific name, Canis lupus familiaris. Actual name, Duck. If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it might not be a duck. It might be a dog named Duck. That's right, we have a dog. Not just any dog, a very special, hardworking therapy dog whose nose I'm going to boop as soon as this is all over. And joining via Zoom is our third guest, Duck's trainer Scot Rucker, owner of Rucker Dog Training. Welcome Mary, Scot and Duck. Hi everybody.

Mary Nicoletti: Hi. Thanks for having us.

Ashley Mengwasser: I'm so glad you're here. Duck is sleeping already.

Mary Nicoletti: Yes.

Ashley Mengwasser: Does this is bode well for our interview or?

Mary Nicoletti: Yeah. Well, I don't know if you need him to speak, I'll have to wake him up and get him to sit. But otherwise, he is totally cool napping right there.

Ashley Mengwasser: He's just dreaming about us. That's what I'm telling myself. How are you today, Scot?

Scot Rucker: I'm doing well. Thank you. How are you?

Ashley Mengwasser: I'm awesome. Thanks for being here remotely. Roles and responsibilities first, Mary. What and whom do you teach over at Lambert High School?

Mary Nicoletti: Well, I'm a special education teacher. I teach a specialized instruction classroom. So it's students with developmental disabilities. I teach at Lambert High School. I've taught there since we opened in ... oh my gosh, '09, I think. I've been a teacher for 26 years.

Ashley Mengwasser: Incredible.

Mary Nicoletti: So love it.

Ashley Mengwasser: Love it. Scot, how did you become a dog trainer, man?

Scot Rucker: Through our family business, we had pet stores in the Cumming area, and I saw the need to bring in some training to our stores. We started by holding classes at our stores about 12 years ago.

Ashley Mengwasser: So, about a dozen years?

Scot Rucker: Yes ma'am. Just felt the need for the community and we had the clientele already coming to the stores and I had a young family. So it was a way to make some extra income as well.

Ashley Mengwasser: I know you shouldn't pick favorites, Scot, but do you have a favorite breed? Be honest.

Scot Rucker: Labs are my favorite breed. We own 26 labs now, I think that we breed and just like Duck is in our breeding program, as well. Labs are my thing.

Ashley Mengwasser: 26, that's a lot of dog food. Mary, what's your favorite breed?

Mary Nicoletti: Well, I used to like the herding breeds, the Shelties, Aussies.

Ashley Mengwasser: Oh, yeah.

Mary Nicoletti: That's what I had before. But Labrador Retriever, hands down now.

Ashley Mengwasser: It's Duck.

Mary Nicoletti: That dog has my heart whole.

Ashley Mengwasser: I'm a Basset Hound person, personally. But I'm in love with Duck here, too. And Scot, Duck is a therapy dog. Tell us what a therapy dog does.

Scot Rucker: A therapy dog is a dog that is trained and very well trained in obedience. And a dog that likes to be loved on, petted on. But a therapy dog is giving back to someone else. There's a lot of misunderstanding about a service dog and a therapy dog. A service dog is like a seeing eye dog, a diabetic alert dog that is serving the human. These dogs are going out into the community and helping other people just by allowing the people to pet on them, love on them. Sit there and read to them, talk to them. But therapy dog is all about giving back to other people.

Ashley Mengwasser: Making them feel good.

Scot Rucker: Yes ma'am.

Ashley Mengwasser: I'd ask Duck, but I want the truth, Scot. I understand he had his own challenges in school. Tell us what Duck failed out of here.

Scot Rucker: Yeah, Duck was supposed to be a field trial dog, a duck hunting dog. But he didn't like to chase the duck so much.

Ashley Mengwasser: Minor problem.

Scot Rucker: He flunked out of duck school. Yeah. He flunked out duck school and then we found a new job for him.

Ashley Mengwasser: He's really thriving at the school he's at now. Mary knows about that.

Mary Nicoletti: Absolutely.

Ashley Mengwasser: Mary you teach, and you also handle Duck, which is a big job through your school's program, The Lambert Pack. Tell us about the purpose of the pack.

Mary Nicoletti: Well, it has grown. Initially the idea was to have a dog in my specialized instruction classroom to add interaction between typical peers and persons with special needs and an inclusive kind of activity, they have something to talk about, a little bit of job exposure. But his potential, it's grown exponentially. Now we have job skills and things like that. So as far as the pack, the job's endless. We've got all kinds of support, there's more social interaction going on, we've worked in the dog park and vocational skills with the Duck Quackers. The initial was, like I said, just one dog. It's always something I've wanted to do as an educator for years and years. There's a lot of research that shows that supports growth and reading and social development and decreases anxiety and so forth like that. We've all heard it, we've all read it. Well, it's tri fold in the classroom. So, that was the idea. That was the premise. Let's just try it and see.

Ashley Mengwasser: Now you have how many dogs?

Mary Nicoletti: We have nine. We have nine-

Ashley Mengwasser: In the school.

Mary Nicoletti: In the school of about 3,000 students. Well over, including staff. It's been fantastic. So now not all nine are often there at the same time, we do rotate through. Duck is there every day because he has a full time job in the classroom. One of the students does a vocational approach ... she's a therapy dog intern. So she assists in walking and training the dogs and does like a doggy daycare report. We have the Duck Quackers too, which is the business of, we make dog treats.

Ashley Mengwasser: And you have a dog park at your-

Mary Nicoletti: We do.

Ashley Mengwasser: High school.

Mary Nicoletti: We do.

Ashley Mengwasser: Is that for these dogs?

Mary Nicoletti: That is for these dogs. It's also for people in the community. We do ask that they come in non-school hours because our students are often using the park during school hours. So we have an obstacle course out there, that's where they can work them and work on the commands and the speech and remembering the commands and so forth like that. So that is where our dogs-

Ashley Mengwasser: There's your actual classroom. And then there are hallways and faculty and other touchpoints in the school that can benefit from the Lambert Pack.

Mary Nicoletti: Yes.

Ashley Mengwasser: What are their jobs, these dogs?

Mary Nicoletti: They've got so many. I don't know that I can pick one. Their job is to be well behaved. All of the dogs, Scot ... and this is how we could not do it without Scot. And him training the humans. Not all dogs are meant to be therapy dogs.

Ashley Mengwasser: Yeah.

Mary Nicoletti: So, their job is to be well behaved, to enjoy the interaction. They need to enjoy the interaction of the human. But often just their sheer presence is what we hear. Even if they're laying in the corner and the class is still going on, the teacher is still teaching, the dogs not even walking around visiting. Children report that they feel better. That just having the dog there, what could be cuter? That kind of thing.

Ashley Mengwasser: Right. Well, in terms of behavior, 10 out of 10 for this one.

Mary Nicoletti: Oh yeah. Yeah. He's got it down pat. I cannot say enough good things about this dog.

Ashley Mengwasser: Let's figure out, how did your collaboration begin with Scot and the community? Take us back to that, Scot.

Scot Rucker: The collaboration began with Mary contacting me about three years ago, two and a half years ago.

Mary Nicoletti: Yeah. Yeah. December, 2019.

Scot Rucker: Yeah. She called looking for a therapy dog-

Mary Nicoletti: Maybe it was November.

Scot Rucker: Don't know that she really understood what she was getting into with the therapy dog and the work that it was going to take. But she contacted me, I had purchased Duck from a friend to bring down here and I was going to train him up and find him a new home down here since he flunked out of school. She just happened to call at the right time. So I said I have the dog for you, I'll donate the dog to you guys if you will do a giving back project to the humane society. I'll help you reach your goal of making him a therapy dog for your school.

Ashley Mengwasser: There's that classroom community collaboration we're talking about. How did you cultivate that working relationship with Scot, Mary? What did it take to get this off the ground?

Mary Nicoletti: Initially, it was just a phone call. Scot was so giving in the sense of, I think it was all in timing too. I think this was something Scot was kind of interested in. He had already been doing things like this for the community, but had not stepped into the classroom. Am I correct, Scot? Is that fair to say? 

Scot Rucker: Yeah, we have our own therapy network.

Mary Nicoletti: Right. So I think that's something that was on his mind, too. From my end, it was trusting him as a professional. He knew what he was talking about, he knew what kind of dog we needed. And that's how this started, I called just to pick his brain. So he had actually the dog for me and the training.

Ashley Mengwasser: And then you got Duck. The training ensued for all the people who interact with Duck, right? So tell me about what that training required.

Mary Nicoletti: Well, in order ... each dog has to have a handler and I want Scot to answer this, if I don't. But we have to go through ... we have to pass the CGC Canine Good Citizenship test. But to me and Scot, there's a lot more training involved. Going to the classes regularly with Scot, learning from him. So he can train the human how to handle the dog in an area where we've got a lot of children and a lot of adults. I mean, we need to both be responsible. I have to advocate for my dog, which is interesting because as a special education teacher, one of your primary things is to advocate for your children.

Ashley Mengwasser: Exactly.

Mary Nicoletti: So, it kind of went hand in hand and the collaboration started from there.

Ashley Mengwasser: What tools did you need to give them, Scot?

Scot Rucker: The biggest thing is them being consistent. Because people don't understand these dogs going into these schools have to be very obedient. Plus they have to be willing to tell people, no. I mean, they're approaching the dog in an incorrect way. Mary's training students and faculty every day because everything you do, you're teaching this dog something. So if they just allow the dog to go crazy when it sees people and everything, it's not going to be good for the environment because then the dog knocks the kid over, jumps on someone, whatever. So, I mean, there's a lot of human training, 95% of this is training human.

Ashley Mengwasser: So, the dog can do the dog's job. Yes. Tell me, I want to hear from both of you, but Scot, you first. How do you think that your collaboration with Mary has been beneficial to students at Lambert High?

Scot Rucker: I think the biggest thing I've seen is just making the staff more approachable, giving the kids an out. Because the biggest thing you hear nowadays is mental health in schools. So giving the kids an out where they can go and sit with the dog to decompress for a little bit. But the relationships that it's built between the students and the teacher or the staff, as far as the administration and stuff. I think that's been the neatest thing. To hear the staff say that, I mean, some of these people have been in education for what? 15, 20 years and seeing how their life has changed over the last couple of years with this program, just having the dog there has been pretty neat.

Ashley Mengwasser: Mary, how have you seen Duck and the other eight to be beneficial to students?

Mary Nicoletti: Same way. Same exact thing. But on a level that's hard to describe because it's every day, 10 times a day. Whether it's making someone smile, whether someone had a rough morning, forgot their homework and is a little upset and saw a dog. That happens with staff, too. Administrators, that was the big thing, too. When we first got Duck, they would say, "Can I take Duck out?" And students suddenly came up to them and talked to them. When they handled discipline and other things and that's all they do, it was so nice to, again, back to that relationship building. That is critical in our school building. The dogs have been a foundation that we did not see coming. I knew it was going to be great, but not this great.

Ashley Mengwasser: Not this great. Gone are the days of the dog ate your homework. Now the dog's helping you with your homework.

Mary Nicoletti: Oh yeah.

Ashley Mengwasser: That's pretty cool.

Mary Nicoletti: Who wouldn't want to do homework with the dog laying by you like this?

Ashley Mengwasser: I want to do all my work with the dog.

Scot Rucker: Yeah. One administrator, as well, that when we started this whole program, he was not about it. He didn't believe in it. About a year, year and a half into this, he called me and he said, "I messed up. I totally agree with this program. Now can I have a dog?" So now he has a dog, as well.

Ashley Mengwasser: Drank the Kool-Aid.

Scot Rucker: He thought it was great.

Ashley Mengwasser: Have you guys seen any other unintended benefits to the school?

Mary Nicoletti: The unintended benefits that I've seen that I did not see in the original vision was the whole community aspect. The feedback from parents that I randomly get, that hear about how their child, Duck went into their literature class and how they sent their mom a picture of how ... look who brightened my day? And the parent knows who he is. So these small little things that became big, in addition to the friendships that have developed and the inclusive opportunities. There's just so many things to list.

Ashley Mengwasser: So much. So much to even name.

Mary Nicoletti: And the magnitude, I think, is what I didn't see coming.

Ashley Mengwasser: Yeah.

Mary Nicoletti: Would you agree with that, Scot, too? The ripple effect, the bigness of it all. What is the word for that?

Scot Rucker: Yeah. And the community's getting more involved, you have more students that are wanting to turn their personal dogs into therapy dogs. A lot of parents that are seeing this, that want to turn their dogs into therapy dogs. So just over the weekend we tested 37 new therapy dogs, about 29 of them passed. Those will be starting to go out in the community and we have a lot more teachers. So I think there were about seven teachers that their dogs passed over the weekend, as well.

Ashley Mengwasser: We see that ripple effect in the school to the community. Scot, how is this collaboration benefiting your business?

Scot Rucker: I mean, of course, I'm getting more training opportunities out of it as far as helping more people and it's growing the business as far as the therapy dog. I mean our therapy dog program, we have our own therapy dog team, as well. But we used to test six, ten dogs. I mean, last weekend we're testing 35. I mean, it's growing my business in that aspect of people doing classes and everything. But just my therapy organization, it's helping that grow, as well. Now we have more dogs going to nursing homes, more dogs going to read to students and everything. So it's been great for my business, but it's also supported my other programs, as well.

Ashley Mengwasser: Incredible. Let's talk about more the reach to the community. There's what Duck and the others are doing in the classroom and the hallways and the principal's office and the counseling office. What other benefits that the Lambert Pack provides are reaching the community? I know you have a product that you sell.

Mary Nicoletti: We do. We do.

Ashley Mengwasser: Tell us a little bit more about community benefits.

Mary Nicoletti: Well, community benefits in the sense of ... well, first of all, each of the Lambert Pack members volunteer in a community-based therapy program. Whether it be Scot's or Humane Hearts by Forsyth County. So we do that through the community. Also, prom, homecoming, the dogs work that, as well.

Ashley Mengwasser: They go to homecoming?

Mary Nicoletti: They go to homecoming.

Ashley Mengwasser: Oh my gosh.

Mary Nicoletti: We do a photo booth.

Ashley Mengwasser: Do they wear a corsage?

Mary Nicoletti: He wore tux to last prom.

Ashley Mengwasser: So handsome.

Mary Nicoletti: He did have a tie-

Ashley Mengwasser: He did?

Mary Nicoletti: For homecoming. He did. Often we did do a little fundraiser where they could take a picture with the dogs. Then we donated it to the humane society.

Ashley Mengwasser: Wonderful.

Mary Nicoletti: So, it's opened up that. But the random feedback from parents, as well, too. And the Duck Quackers, that is a dog treat that my kids bake with the culinary arts and the food nutrition program. So another inclusive-

Ashley Mengwasser: Duck Quackers.

Mary Nicoletti: Duck Quackers.

Ashley Mengwasser: I wonder who those are named after.

Mary Nicoletti: I don't know. Anybody know?

Ashley Mengwasser: He’s currently sleeping.

Mary Nicoletti: Yeah. So those are treats that are made with pumpkin, all natural, bacon. Well, I don't know if bacon's all natural. But-

Ashley Mengwasser: I mean, in a sense.

Mary Nicoletti: We won't go there. Yeah, for dogs, they are. So they package, seal, label, that was done with the business marketing team at Lambert by students. All of it's driven by students.

Ashley Mengwasser: Mary, what about schools that don't have these fun, furry, four-legged friends in their schools? What can they do if they're interested in a collaboration with a community member?

Mary Nicoletti: I don't know. I think it goes back to, again, a teacher and the teachers within the building and so forth, evaluating what they think could be used. It could be as simple as the local baker, that they could work with in building vocational skills for their students or making a special cookie and marketing it there. My students' families have been involved in the sense of we have volunteered and sold the Duck Quackers. And my students have run like Halloween festivals last year and we brought our dogs and supported that. I think families can help in many ways. There was the student that helped raise the money for the dog park-

Ashley Mengwasser: The dog park.

Mary Nicoletti: $10,000, she did. So she reached out and filled out a grant and there was the partnership in education. So that's how families and community have been involved and supporting us.

Ashley Mengwasser: They love seeing Duck at these events. Did I read correctly that he was in a stage play?

Mary Nicoletti: He was. He was Sandy in Annie.

Ashley Mengwasser: He was Sandy?

Mary Nicoletti: He was, he was. He loved it. He nailed the part. He did.

Ashley Mengwasser: Of course, he did. He just moved his paw in agreement and he's like, "That's me, mom. Crushing it." And he goes to graduation, as well?

Mary Nicoletti: He does.

Ashley Mengwasser: Is there an audible response from Duck at graduation?

Mary Nicoletti: Yes. Well, there was an audible response from the audience when my student walked across the stage with Duck. Well, everybody had chills and tears. There was standing ovation, it was moving. You could feel the whole place vibrate. Yes, we did our cheer, our chant at the end and he barks to it. Yeah, the kids love it.

Ashley Mengwasser: He learned that too, another part of his training. I imagine you get a lot of questions from other schools and administrations who might be interested in a program like this. What are some frequently asked questions, Mary? FAQs.

Mary Nicoletti: The most frequent was, how the heck did you start that? I mean, what do you do? Where do you start? The first thing is going to obviously be your administrator. We're lucky, our board of education has been supporting us and Dr. Gary Davidson, our principal, supported from the beginning. But I have to say that an integral part has to be finding somebody in the community like dog trainer.

Ashley Mengwasser: Scot here.

Mary Nicoletti: Scot Rucker, this could not happen without him, as well and without his expertise. So, that's critical-

Ashley Mengwasser: And his established business. Yeah.

Mary Nicoletti: And those are critical components. Yes.

Ashley Mengwasser: Do people ask about-

Mary Nicoletti: And his knowledge.

Ashley Mengwasser: I mean, I have had pets and I have allergies. Do they ask about dog fur, and the little things like that?

Mary Nicoletti: Occasionally we do get that. What we do is we ask the students when they register for specific classes and so forth. But because we have a large school, we can often put them in another classroom where there is not a dog.

Ashley Mengwasser: Got it.

Mary Nicoletti: Typically, knock on wood hard, it's not been a problem. It's not been an issue. We have some students to say, "I'm scared of dogs." And it's like, it's okay. All right, we'll keep him over here. They stay with us, they're on a leash. And that goes back to the well-behaved dog part that-

Ashley Mengwasser: The training part.

Mary Nicoletti: We start at the beginning and Scot said, it's critical, exclamation point, have to stay on it.

Ashley Mengwasser: What happens in those cases if they might be a little leery of Duck?

Mary Nicoletti: I just sit Duck down and assure them that he will stay right where he is. And he does. Eventually what happens is the child continues each day to go by. Or if they're in a classroom, they see that he's placed. It's usually the child that ends up approaching Duck-

Ashley Mengwasser: Approaching Duck.

Mary Nicoletti: Yeah.

Ashley Mengwasser: I love that.

Mary Nicoletti: And kind of like, "Oh, can I pet him?" "Of course, you can pet him."

Ashley Mengwasser: Do you see that a lot in your work, Scot? Maybe fears about dogs, people kind of come around once they've had exposure to a trained therapy dog.

Scot Rucker: Yeah, or just a trained dog in general, because most of your dogs that you see, if they meet someone on the street or something, they're trying to jump and get off and their legs and all that kind of stuff. So a person that has, per se, PTSD or an issue because they've been bit by a dog or something like that. So a dog like Duck that can sit there and just be calm, a lot of times it'll make those people feel more comfortable to approach the dog, as well. So yeah, we see it a lot. I have a lot of clients and stuff that have been bit, are attacked in some way. So it really changes the game when you have a dog that can be obedient for those people.

Ashley Mengwasser: It must be very rewarding to watch these dogs benefit people's lives because they are so well trained thanks to Rucker Training. What do you both envision for your collaboration in the future? Where do we go from here? Scot, you first.

Scot Rucker: Right now, we're growing the program. We're trying to look in the future for these students that are in the special needs classrooms. Because a lot of them, when they age out of school, they don't have anywhere to go. I mean, there are certain jobs, they could work at Publix or one of the grocery stores. A lot of times bagging, things like that. But that's changing as well because it's going self-checkout. We want to have something for these kids to do later down the road. We have some interns that we've started this year. We have a child in a wheelchair right now that we're teaching to start work with some of our dogs, doing other things for us at the business, as well. But we want to sort of have a place for these kids to go after they age out of school. So we're working on another nonprofit right now to hopefully start using ... I say using, but giving these kids something to do and using them to train the dogs. Because they can help give back to the community and that aspect, as well.

Ashley Mengwasser: That’s one of the other benefits about the collaboration. Get some good workers for Scot in there.

Mary Nicoletti: Yes. Yes.

Ashley Mengwasser: What’s your take, Mary, on your vision for the future of this collaboration?

Mary Nicoletti: Same thing. From the Lambert point of view, we have already begun to incorporate more and more vocational skills. With the Duck Quackers, the dog parks, the therapy dog intern. These kids, we have nine dogs at our hands. They schedule the dogs in the morning, they go and pick it up from the handler. Now, most of what we see is these children will have been working with Duck for four to five years before they're doing that independently with all the nine dogs. So we're working in the vocational skills and the training that Scot was referring to that way, before going to a professional establishment, such as Scot's. Where the intensity is there and it's all training all day. So they'll have a base.

Ashley Mengwasser: Beautiful sounds like a bright future to me. How would you guys recommend teachers start a community classroom collaboration? What's the first or second things that they should do? Give them a couple tips.

Mary Nicoletti: The first thing, I think, where it starts is the teacher ultimately knows what she needs in her classroom, she or he, excuse me. In their classroom, what they could use. I think if I hadn't reached out ... the next step is to reach out to administrator. Because without their support and their go ahead, it can't happen. That's where I'm very thankful for Dr. Gary Davidson and Ashley Johnessee. She saw this coming, too. She was the assistant principal, and now she has three Labradoodles at Haw Creek Elementary.

Ashley Mengwasser: Where she is now?

Mary Nicoletti: Where she is the principal now. So this has spread. But back to the question of how can ... I think that a key component to this was reaching out to someone in the community. Scot and his knowledge and tapping that, and this partnership that developed has been key. So, that's what I would say to teachers, is don't hesitate.

Ashley Mengwasser: Identify what you need and then talk to an administrator so that you have that power to leverage. Because the businesses are there, lying in wait.

Mary Nicoletti: Yes, they are. And don't scared of creative ideas.

Ashley Mengwasser: Don’t be scared.

Mary Nicoletti: No, because I mean, who would've thought that bringing a dog into public education environment might be ... I mean, we all kind of had that, "Therapy dogs are great." But to truly take that next step-

Ashley Mengwasser: See it in practice.

Mary Nicoletti: Was a little so horrifying, I would think. I'm proud that we had administration and the board of education that was willing to try it and trust us.

Ashley Mengwasser: Now you have a dog park and they're in the yearbook and we could go on and on.

Mary Nicoletti: Yes.

Ashley Mengwasser: Scot, you're real, you're living large in the community. Where is your-

Mary Nicoletti: He’s the real deal.

Ashley Mengwasser: Business space? We may have some referrals for you, Scot.

Scot Rucker: We have classes that we do in Gainesville. We have classes that we do in Cumming. And our main office is in North Forsyth, the Cumming area, as well.

Ashley Mengwasser: Excellent. We'll keep up the good work. Duck has been so polite. He has not, I think, oaked a single eye this entire interview. But we're going to get him up here at the end.

Mary Nicoletti: All right.

Ashley Mengwasser: Thank you all for being here today, all three of you. Scot, you really molded a furry piece of clay here. And now Mary and his handler, you are touching as many lives as possible. Duck is an actual hero and now he's up and at 'em. Teachers, does it get any better than a dog in your classrooms and hallways, on stage at graduation or school plays, by feet and counselors offices and faculty lounges? I think not. And Duck looks like he agrees. Duck, can you give us a sign off, buddy?

Mary Nicoletti: Duck, speak. Speak.

Ashley Mengwasser: Oh, what a good boy. Educators, you are a great teacher. There's more goodness in store for next week on Classroom Conversations. I'm Ashley Mengwasser, talk to you soon. Bye-bye. Funding for Classroom Conversations is made possible through the School Climate Transformation Grant.