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From the Principal’s Pen ~ March 2020

Submitted by: Jennifer McGee, Principal of Atwood Primary School

I am beginning to realize (too late, as usual) that some of my very best childhood memories involve the pets we had when we were growing up.  At various times, we had two giant collie dogs (named: Lassie 1 and Lassie 2…unoriginal and pathetic) a cat, a rabbit, guinea pigs, fish.  My parents really gave it a go!

As a young mother, I spent a great deal of those years, well, basically pretty overwhelmed…by ages and stages of my children, by my job, by the demands of housekeeping, and trying to keep up with it all. But, in the back of my mind, I knew my children would benefit from having a pet.

So, I gave it a weak try now and again. I would pick up a Beta Fish at Wal-Mart, or I got two parakeets from the pet store once (ultimately ended up donating those to the Lawrence High School biology teacher), and there was the time we had a couple of hamsters.  There was always excitement, at first, when we brought these little creatures in the house, but then things would go downhill.  The thing about pets is you get the whole range of emotions in a condensed period of time.  Upon arrival, there is great joy, and then the maintenance of them becomes mundane and often gross, and then there is an untimely death, tinged with grief and regret…

When my children left the nest, my husband and I, urged on by our relatives, got a little rescue dog.  Game changer.

All of the love you get from giving love to a pet came flooding back to me.  And…ohhhh…the greetings when you get home…unmatched by any human greeting.   Now, just as I was warned, I cannot imagine life without my “little boy in a dog suit”!!

There are distinct benefits of raising children with pets.  Ashwin Dewan wrote an article articulating some of those advantages for children:

  • Pets provide constant companionship
  • Children learn responsibility by helping with the care of their pets
  • Pets can make your children healthy through improved fitness and a reduction in stress levels
  • Happier children: Pets elevate children’s moods and reduces their stress
  • Pets teach children empathy and compassion

Now, although I am articulating all of the joys of owning a pet, I am not saying that owning a pet is the right decision for every family. Only you know your situation, and this may not be the right timing for you; however, children do love animals….so…..

…Our community read “A Boy Called Bat” is about a little boy whose mother is a veterinarian.  She brings home a tiny orphaned pet skunk and Bat becomes involved in caring for this teeny little creature.  I mean…what child wouldn’t love the story of a pet SKUNK!!!

Animal rescue has been tugging at all of our hearts.  Who hasn’t been devasted watching over 25 million acres burning in Australia?  An estimated billion animals have been lost in the fires.  Scientists are saying species such as koalas, kangaroos, wombats, and flying foxes have suffered apocalyptic losses.

On March 6, we are having a 1:15 assembly celebrating Read Across America. At that time, most of our classrooms will have finished their community read book, “A Boy Called Bat”.  We have a guest speaker coming to speak to our children about animal rescue.  Our speakers’ name is Josh Sparks and he will speak to us about his organization called:  Sparks’ Ark.

We also invite children, on March 6, to bring a stuffed animal to school and bring a donation of any size to Sparks’ Ark animal rescue organization. 

In closing, I want you to know, this is a judgment-free zone regarding whether or not you choose to have a pet.  I didn’t when my children were young. I used to say to them: “I can either keep you alive or a pet…you choose.” What this Pen is really about…is children LOVE animals, and learning to care for animals and care about animals is good for children and helps to naturally develop their sense of empathy and responsibility and it connects them to this beautiful planet.

My life is better because of my little rescue dog, Louie.  My husband and I both agree, Louie rescued us.

Educationally Yours,


Jennifer McGee, Principal of Atwood Primary School


Dates to Note:

Scholastic Book Fair at Atwood:  Monday, March 2 – Saturday, March 7

Read Across America Sparks’ Ark Celebration:  Assembly at 1:15 in the Atwood Gym, you are invited!

PTA Winter Carnival for Atwood!  Saturday, March 7 in the Atwood Gym from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

No School:  Friday, March 20/ Teacher In-service Day



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