Shepherds of Hope develops student resilience through animal therapy

Jan. 30, 2020

Crandall ISD began 2020 strong by formally launching Shepherds of Hope, a student-led program that teaches students about animals and animal care, while prioritizing the therapeutic benefits that animals have on the social-emotional well-being of students.

CISD hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 22 to honor those involved. Formally founded in spring 2018 by Crandall graduate Dawson Killen as part of his Ford Leadership Scholarship, Shepherds of Hope began programming in January 2020.

“Shepherds of Hope will educate students about the importance of agriculture and provide them with a sense of love, community and hope through natural healing,” said Killen. “We are blessed to raise the support needed within the school district and community to make this vision a reality.”

Developed as a partnership between Wilson Elementary, Dietz Elementary and the Crandall ISD FFA program, each lesson is targeted at a different aspect of animal care, while allowing younger students to benefit from the proximity to gentle animals.

“Our students will immediately benefit from working with these animals,” said District Behavior Specialist, Jennifer Phillips. “They will develop empathy, resilience, self-awareness and improve self-esteem by witnessing how their actions have an impact on other living things.”

The Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) defined social-emotional learning more than two decades ago. According to their research, 83% of students who attended schools with a solid Social Emotional Learning (SEL) program, had academic gains, and the average gain on standardized testing was 11%.

CISD looks forward to years of success with this program launch.