Philadelphia Teacher Sees Improvement Thanks to Classroom Pet

For many students, school work can be stressful.  And as students struggle, good teachers look for ways to help their students improve.  For Ms. Linda Graham and her 4th grade class of boys at Global Leadership Academy in West Philadelphia, PA, improvement came through Carl, the Bearded Dragon.

“Since Carl came into the classroom, he has helped create a more gentle and compassionate environment,” said Graham.  “Each and every day, I observe my students taking such good care and showing responsibility towards this shared creature. They are all eager to feed him, bathe him, or just to hold him.”

Ms. Graham brought Carl into the classroom through Pets in the Classroom, a grant program that provides teachers with financial support to purchase and maintain classroom pets.  The program, which has provided over 39,000 grants to elementary and middle schools, was established to provide children with an opportunity to interact with pets—an experience that can help to shape their lives for years to come. And Carl is proof of those benefits.

“There are so many ways Carl has impacted our lessons and learning,” said Graham. “Academically, we use him for science lessons to study food chains, ecosystems, habitats, and animal kingdom information. For writing, he has become the center of many creative stories. His presence is a wealth of inspiration. In fact, one my most special stories involves a few of my students that struggle with nervousness and anxiety during big tests. One student in particular often has difficulties during reading and writing portions of tests even though he is really an excellent student. It’s like he just freezes and will worry himself into an hour-long cycle trying to answer one question. During a recent mock test, I let him hold Carl while he took the test and to my delight, he completed the entire test without taking one break. He checked his work and employed strategies we had learned in the classroom! It was a wonderful thing to watch him take a test without stress. He even leaned over and would whisper to Carl or pet him while thinking about answers.”

To learn more about The Pets in the Classroom grant program or to talk to Ms. Graham about her experience with classroom pets, email  More information on the grant program is available online at:

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