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La Liga de Las Americas

Dixie the dog a favorite at school for migrant children

MILLER CITY, Ohio (AP): Many students who attend a school for the children of migrant workers struggle to keep up with the lessons in English.

Their teacher, though, has come up with a way to make them more comfortable and confident during school this summer.

Dixie, a 2-year-old therapy dog, is the students’ new favorite teacher.

“The students like to read to Dixie, or they like using her like a big pillow,” said teacher Jeanine Atkinson, in her ninth summer at the migrant school.

She teaches about 20 third- and fourth-graders. Most speak English with a limited vocabulary.

Dixie, a border collie/golden retriever mix, helps ease the students, Atkinson said.

“When the students get on the bus to leave at the end of the day, they all are yelling goodbye to Dixie, not the teachers,'' she said with a smile.

About 150 students attend the school.

Their parents come to this area about 50 miles southwest of Toledo from Florida, Texas and Mexico to help grow and pick cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.

Fifty years ago before farms used machines to do most of the work, there were around 1,000 students at the school.

There are 13 migrant schools, most government-subsidized, in the state this summer.

The last day of school for children at the school in Miller City was last Wednesday.

Atkinson encourages students to read and write in English.

The students also keep a journal and write letters to Atkinson.

It's a way for the students to share thoughts they might not be comfortable saying in class, she said.

It’s also a way to encourage them to write in English because she said they may be fluent English speakers but unable to read or write it.

The school focuses on language arts, and young readers at the school also are paired with an adult mentor. Students also can attend a health fair and have access to the library, computers and a swimming pool.

Information from: The Courier, http://www.thecourier.com






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