Carmel Clay Schools Supt. Michael Beresford has long been a fan of dogs, and he believes man’s best friend can provide a good lesson for students and teachers as they return to the classroom this month.
“I’ve learned a lot from dogs,” he said. “One thing that most dog owners agree with – and certainly it has been true for me – is that no matter how good the day was, how challenging the day was, how weird the day was, when I walk in the door I’m met with a whole lot of wag.”
That enthusiastic and positive spirit led to the 2022-23 theme at CCS: “Wag More, Bark Less.” It’s a phrase Beresford has embraced for years, and he believes the time is right to share it with the entire CCS community.
“What a wonderful thing it would be if we embraced this idea of wagging, where every kid feels engaged and that we’re excited to see you, so glad you’re with us. They feel valued and loved,” he said. “Let’s really try to make our schools the place where a kid walks in the door and we’re going to wag.”
The other half of the phrase, “bark less,” refers to negativity, including actions that are intimidating or threatening.
“Sometimes, they’re precursors to a painful bite,” Beresford said. “Some of our kids get barked at a lot. Some get bit, in human terms, so we want to be wagging. When you’re getting barked at a lot by the people who are supposed to be wagging for you, that can be pretty tough on kids.”
Although Beresford is a longtime dog owner, in the last year he’s gained a canine companion who often follows him to work in the office or on visits to schools. Jim Dandy is a golden retriever matched with Beresford through the Indiana Canine Assistant Network. Dogs in the program receive initial training from inmates at Indiana prisons. They work with the dogs to develop skills for a variety of placements. ICAN dogs can be trained to assist adults with disabilities, help children learn independence or provide comfort and companionship to veterans with PTSD or other challenges.
“(Jim Dandy) is an ambassador of how valuable service dogs or facility dogs can be,” Beresford said. “Especially for kids that are anxious or need a little time to decompress.”
Although Carmel Clay Schools is known for its greyhounds, it’s Jim Dandy on the logo for the school theme this year.