Welcome, Essie!

West Point Elementary School students Silas Wheeler, Izzy Forsyth, Hadley Bryson, Carter Aris and Truitt Dingler with West Point Elementary Principal Michael Lindsey and Essie the service dog (Tiffany McKoy)

West Point Elementary introduces service dog

WEST POINT, Ala. –West Point Elementary School on Monday morning welcomed its new faculty member, Essie the service dog.

Essie is a Labradoodle, and her primary handler is West Point Elementary School Assistant Principal Shannon Waters. The school plans to utilize Essy’s presence strategically. She will visit classrooms, assist special needs students and offer support to children experiencing emotional challenges. According to Waters, the goal is to de-escalate emotional situations and provide a source of comfort for students dealing with trauma or emotional stress.

This initiative to bring a service dog to West Point Elementary began two years ago, but it gained momentum with a recent grant approval. The school had been inspired by the success of similar programs, such as the one at Hanceville Elementary School, which saw remarkable improvements in student well-being and behavior according to West Point Elementary School Principal Michael Lindsey.

“We have seen firsthand how helpful dogs can be to students who may be experiencing emotional difficulties or trauma,” Lindsey explained. “Having Essie here will give our students a companion at school and a friend who loves them unconditionally.”

Lindsey expressed gratitude to Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette and the school board for making Essie’s presence at West Point Elementary a reality. “In today’s school environment, having a service dog here will help our students through some of these challenges, to have a successful school,” Lindsey stated.

Essie has already shown her affection for children and her willingness to provide comfort. She is expected to have a positive impact on the school community, and there are hopes to expand the program to other elementary schools in the future.

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