BANNER ELK – Banner Elk Elementary School added a new unorthodox faculty member this year. She does a little bit of everything around the school, and each of the students loves her. Her name is Gidget and she is the official service / therapy dog of Banner Elk Elementary School.
Gidget is a female Labrador / Golden Retriever mix and is owned and managed by second and fourth grade teacher Cameron Serafim. Gidget attended an eight week training therapy course with Brianne Harris and Positive Partner Dog Training.
A superbly calm demeanor coupled with an intense love for children, Gidget easily defined himself as an incredible asset to the school.
“She’s amazing. Every school needs a Gidget,” Serafim said.
Gidget mainly stays with his teacher, but is free to roam the school grounds and find students who are just in need of love. Gidget will walk the halls, visit special classes, sleep with the students, and find anyone who needs his services.
The amazing addition to school also requires everything a traditional pet needs like going outside for exercise, using the bathroom, and eating. All her needs are met without any problems at school. Serafim notes that there are no real challenges in having Gidget at school, and that the experience is all positive.
The only times Gidget will wear a leash is when dismissed for safety reasons due to the influx of additional cars and buses on the site. All other times of the day she wanders for love and gives attention.
“I love it when Gidget comes to my office so I can stroke her,” student Noel Miles explained.
One of Gidget’s recent accomplishments was during the recent BES musical “Frozen”. One student was having extreme difficulty with stage and performing anxiety, and Gidget stepped out of her seat, found the student, and stood beside them.
“She has a sixth sense,” Serafim said.
When students are afraid to go to the nurse or take a COVID test, Gidget pushes his way into the room to help the young students. Some students are also concerned when it is time to take a test or exam, and again Gidget will provide its services to these students just by entering the room.
Another student was very scared of dogs, Serafim explained, adding: “The next day they were best friends.”
At home, Gidget has a 10-year-old, four-pound Yorkie sister, and Gidget is enjoying her life at home by waiting until the next day to help the children at school.
“It’s great to have him here. She comforts the children and is everyone’s friend, ”Serafim said. “The kids go crazy when she walks into class. “