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Rescue Reading: How One South Arbor Student Volunteers Her Time and Builds Connections

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Phoebe Wallace, first-grade student at South Arbor Charter Academy, has been attending school virtually and struggled with missing her friends and social interactions. ​​​​​​​
Her parents began looking for safe ways to get her around other kids her age. Mrs. Bethena Wallace, Phoebe’s mom, found the Rescue Reading program at the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV). 
 Student reading to a dog.

The program aims to help children with their reading skills and helps animals at the same time. Through this program, youth are invited to read to the adoptable animals at HSHV. Each Rescue Reading program includes a humane education lesson, a group read-aloud, and a dog meet and greet.
"I am so excited to see that our students are finding way to celebrate joy and find excitement in a time where there are so many restrictions," said Kim Bondy, principal at South Arbor. "I am also especially proud of Miss Phoebe for practicing her reading while also becoming 'special friends' with animals that don’t have permanent homes yet."
 Student reading to a dog.

Mrs. Wallace felt this would be a perfect fit for Phoebe as she loves reading and all animals, especially cats and dogs. “She absolutely loves it and tells us about how her stories put a dog to sleep or how a ‘sassy cat’ didn’t want to sit still and listen to her read," she said. "She is always on the lookout for a Corgi in need of a good home.”
Mrs. Wallace explains that this has also been a safe, masked way for Phoebe and a close friend to see each other which has been a real blessing to them both. “Phoebe can’t wait to be able to get back to school in person, but for now, this program has been a great way for her to get out of the house and be around peers,” said Mrs. Wallace.

Students reading together. 
According to Bondy, Phoebe’s level of compassion is top-notch.  "It is sweet to see her caring nature come out," she said. "Our first graders are working on helping and comforting others and noticing when they are sad or need a friend.  This example of service that she has been performing is exactly summed up by that definition. Not only is she a wonderful student, she also is doing a great job with practicing ice skating and volunteering at the humane society. Phoebe is the kind of student that we all absolutely love!"
Phoebe’s favorite book to read to the animals is “Plenty of Love to Go Around” by Emma Chichester-Clark. Phoebe also loves figure skating, listening to music, and is learning how to braid her dolls’ hair.