Teacher uses dogs in class to teach, help

ORANGE PARK, Fla. – As a special education teacher at W.E. Cherry Elementary in Clay County, Rebekah Harp works not only makes learning fun and exciting, she also is an avid animal rescuer who brings her many therapy dogs to class to teach the children compassion.

"A lot of my animals who have special needs, like Emma, who is paralyzed from the waist down," Harp said. "She teaches children compassion and acceptance for people who are different."

Harp also hosts her Spay-ghetti Cafe, where people come to her room and get spaghetti, a drink and a dessert in exchange for a donation to a dog rescue agency. She chooses a different charity for each event. 

Harp also runs a Junior Human Society that is open to all of the children at her school. She teaches about spaying and neutering, puppy mills, rescuing and many other things. 

"Animals are so important in the classroom, and this program should really be everywhere," Harp said. "It's a reward to spend time with the animals, but a lot of children who don't want to read in front of a group, they would sit down in the corner and read with one of the dogs."

Harp also sells Muttworks jewelry at many dog events, and most of her profits go to various dog rescue groups.

"We're on this Earth for a purpose and we have to help other people," Harp said.

For her efforts, Harp was awarded the Positively Jax award for November by WJXT and Memorial Hospital.