21 of the 25 animals have found their fur-ever homes since the students' work was showcased this year.
The furry residents of a Virginia animal shelter have a group of second graders to thank for helping them find their forever homes. Forty-two students at St. Michael's Episcopal School in Richmond channeled their imagination and creativity into crafting heartwarming letters on behalf of 24 dogs and one cat awaiting adoption at Richmond Animal Care and Control. "Hi, my name is Sleigh Ride! Do you want to adopt me? You can train me if you want! Can you put a heart on my collar? I am a girl. Who are you?" read one adorable note written by Winnie Rice.
"You can snuggle with me! I promise that I will be a good dog. You can even sleep with me if you want! I love going on walks and playing outside. I am a medium-sized dog. I'm getting bored of this place. Would you love me forever? Love, a cute puppy," the letter concludes. The brainchild of teacher Kensey Jones, who has been teaching second graders at St. Michael's for the last eight years and volunteers on the weekends at Richmond Animal Care and Control, the creative endeavor proved extremely successful as 21 of the 25 animals have found their fur-ever homes since the students' work was showcased this year. "The idea came to me that I could connect [the students'] persuasive writing paragraphs with something real in the community," Jones told Good Morning America.
"She emailed me back in January, and was like, 'You can say no, but what do you think about this idea of having the kids write persuasive writing, like from the perspective of one of the shelter dogs?' and I thought it was an amazing idea," Christie Chipps Peters, the director of RACC recalled. "It sort of just grew from there. She's a genius and we were happy to be part of it." Peters arranged for the students to meet with Snow, a 10-week-old American pit bull-terrier puppy who was waiting to be adopted, and on January 31, the children learned about the shelter's mission and how they could help some of the animals considered "less desirable" by potential adopters.
"We're the only open-admission shelter in the city of Richmond, which means we take in every animal regardless of health or behavior," Peters explained. "We typically take in around 3,000 animals a year and we take in everything, not just dogs and cats—we've had monkeys and alligators and snakes. We respond to every call for service. And then we have wonderful volunteers and an adoption team that really work hard to try and find forever homes for the animals in our care."
Jones revealed that her 7- and 8-year-old students—which includes Peters' own son—were excited about their persuasive writing project after meeting Snow. "They actually wrote these paragraphs very quickly because of the excitement," she said. In a press release from the school, one of Jones' students named Danielle Petroski said she was "so very happy" to help get dogs adopted. "All dogs deserve a loving home, especially Snow [the puppy ambassador]. I am so very happy to be able to help neglected animals find great forever families."
"The stories are so sweet," Peters said. "Children write the best anyway because they have no filter and they're honest and kind and it just comes from such a sweet spot. They haven't yet been jaded. Reading their stories and looking at that sweet dog in the cage, I think just speaks volumes to moving on the emotional side of things." According to Jones, eight or nine dogs went home within days of the letters being showcased. "I didn't think they would get adopted," Peters added. "I mean, I really didn't have an expectation. So anything was good, but I was surprised that they got adopted that quickly."
Jones said that she's "very proud" of what her second graders have produced and how they've learned to use more descriptive words and build "beautiful, longer sentences." She hopes to repeat the assignment next year with a new group of students. "They have grown as writers. They love to write now," she added. "I've moved on to some other writing assignments and they are very excited about each of them. In fact, they ask me if they finish something early, if they can write, so that makes me super proud as a teacher."