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Marshfield High has a therapy dog, thanks to grant

Nala, The Therapy Dog

Marshfield High School has had a furry addition to its staff this year: Nala, a therapy dog in training, greets students when they enter the school each morning and can be seen padding down the hallway, eliciting smiles from the students, teachers, and staff she passes. Next year, when fully trained, Nala will get to work, helping students manage stress and school-induced anxiety, said Bob Keuther, the principal.

Nala’s presence at the school is made possible by a grant provided by the Marshfield Education Foundation, a group founded in 2010 to raise money for projects dreamed up by school faculty and administration.

Other undertakings funded for the 2017-2018 school year include virtual reality headsets at the high school, wrist heart rate monitors for physical education classes at Furnace Brook Middle School, and new technology for the STEAM lab at Martinson Elementary School.

"Teachers can have these ideas of things that are different and creative and innovative, and apply for these grants," said Sara Prouty, principal of Daniel Webster Elementary School. "They’re all for things that typically the budget wouldn’t be paying for."

Most of the money the foundation is able to offer each year comes from an annual St. Patrick’s Day weekend 5K race. This year’s event will be held March 17 at 10 a.m. at the Brant Rock Esplanade in Marshfield. Runners and walkers will journey down Plymouth Avenue before turning onto Ocean Street, where the course ends with a view of the sea.

The foundation holds the annual race near St. Patrick’s Day to bank on the palpable merriment in the South Shore during a time of year when green clovers and leprechauns are on everyone’s minds.

“Scituate had the parade, but there was nothing in Marshfield celebrating St. Patrick’s Day,” said Tom Miller, a race committee member and the assistant superintendent of finance for the school district, of the group’s initial decision to hold the race in March. 

Eight years later, the group has approved 116 grants for Marshfield’s educators totalingmore than $601,000, said John Giberti, president of the foundation.

Roz, The Wild Robot

One of the largest projects funded this year was the schoolwide reading program, “One Book, One DWS,” at Daniel Webster Elementary School. The $4,000 grant was used to buy a copy of “The Wild Robot” — about a robot named Roz who must learn how to survive when she finds herself on a remote, wild island — for every family and staff member at the school.

The community read the book through September and October and has held Roz-themed events throughout the year. Teachers have integrated the story into their curriculums. The band teacher wrote a song based on the book for the fourth- and fifth-grade band students to play at their holiday concert. A human-sized robot made by the art teacher stands in the lobby.

Prouty, who grew up in Marshfield and has worked in education for about 30 years, said of the program, “It has absolutely been the highlight of my career.”

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