Since 2011, all newly enrolled 5th and 6th graders begin their educational journeys at Saint Martin de Porres Academy by participating in an innovative, week-long empathy-building program called the Mutt-i-grees Curriculum.
Mutt-i-grees is a collaborative project developed by the Pet Savers Foundation of North Shore Animal League America.
North Shore Animal League America is one of the largest and oldest no-kill shelters in the country and was named Yale University’s “School of the 21st Century”.
The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum incorporates humane education along with social and emotional learning to teach children how to experience and recognize their connection to other species, especially companion animals.
The goal is to foster empathy while developing the children’s social awareness, relationship skills and problem-solving abilities.
- Veterinary care
- The importance of spaying and neutering
They also learn how to evaluate canine behavior and recognize dangerous situations.
The Mutt-i-grees Curriculum features an intensive language arts component that requires students to internalize and process their experiences by writing about them.
Many of the students’ essays have recurring themes which feature empathy, compassion and responsibility.
“One thing I love about Mutt-i-grees is that it has a lasting influence on the kids,” said President, Allison Rivera. “Some want to volunteer as soon as they’re old enough, and it’s great that there’s a really good volunteer group in New Haven. It’s important for these students to see how they can integrate what they’ve learned into their lives and community,” she said.
In addition to the educational component, the web-based American M.U.T.T.S. Club is designed to encourage shelter adoptions by educating the public about the charm and value of mixed-breed shelter dogs.
Students learn about marketing and design advertising schemes and posters to generate adoptions.
The Mutt-i-grees motto is simple: “Love needs no pedigree.”