Joplin students meet a new classmate


It’s hard to tell who was more excited to meet who, whether it was Bridget, a Golden Doodle, or the students at the school she’ll be attending next fall. She’s the personal dog of Nasha Robinson, a counselor at the school, but before she can attend full time, she and her human need to do more training at On Command Canine Training in Joplin.

“Hopefully we’re going to use her more as like a good citizen dog where she can encourage the kids to follow the school rules and have good behavior,” says school counselor and Bridget’s Mom Nasha Robinson.

The PTO was able to raise enough money to cover Bridget’s training. The school will also have a second therapy dog. This one belonging to 2nd Grade Teacher Kate Tupper. 

“They help with reading, fluency, they help with social, how to make friends, emotional, all kinds of things that dogs can help within the building,” says Tupper.

And thanks to former Joplin resident Dr. Angie Besendorfer, the Chancellor of Online University WGU Missouri, there is now enough money to a second dog.

“We’re celebrating teacher appreciation week. WGU Missouri created a new activity called “Fund My Classroom” and Royal Heights had so many nominations that we had to come here to celebrate Kate Tupper and the nominations she received,” says Dr. Besendorfer.

Both animals will receive their training over the summer and when classes start up in the fall, this will be the first school in Joplin to have therapy dogs. Nearly 22 percent of students at Royal Heights suffer from some sort of trauma-related symptoms that impacts their potential success in the classroom.

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