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Posted August 26, 2014

Special Ed Teacher Uses Grant Money to Buy Service Dog

Capetta the service dog brings joy to McCollum ES classroom.

Ritamarie Theiler,  a special education teacher at McCollum ES, entered to win a $2,500 grant from Farmer's Insurance for their #ThankAMillionTeachers campaign, to help cover costs of a new tool in her classroom - a very special service dog named Capetta.

"Capetta is a fully trained service dog who has helped my students with autism increase social and literacy skills," said Theiler when applying for the grant. "Students have shown an increase in reading fluency, decrease in behaviors & a renewed love of school."

Theiler was selected as one of thirty award winners from around the country to for the $2,500 grant to use the money for 'positive change in the classroom.' 38% of the student population at McCollum ES has an IEP (individual evaluation program), with additional services from Pre-K to 5th grade, ISP and Autism.

"Capetta has done wonders for the school also" said Theiler, "helping other students achieve goals by working for Capetta time and helping students go into classrooms they were hesitant about. Capetta's calming influence has been an amazing help for my students."

Since the beginning of the year, more than 730,000 thank-yous have been received for teachers on the website. As part of the national program, Farmers Insurance invited teachers to submit proposals for $2,500 grants. During the months of June and July, the public voted on hundreds of proposals with the top six vote-getters in five regions selected as winners. In all, Farmers has committed to donating $1 million to teachers and education programs in 2014.

The website is continuously accepting the public’s thank yous and posts a live tally of the number of thank yous received thus far.  It is also the place where teachers can submit their proposals for the chance to win grants of $2,500.

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