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Casey cares about Roessleville students

Like all the other students in Mrs. Meyer's second grade class, Casey, at one point, had to learn some new things.

She had to learn how to sit, to lie down and to stay. She had to learn not to jump, not to bark, not to bite. And just like the other students in Sue Meyer's classroom, Casey had to take a test to prove what she had learned.

The 3-year-old yellow Labrador retriever is as much a part of the class as any other student, and in some ways, she's a teacher herself.

According to Meyer, Casey came into her life when her family started looking for a new pet. Shortly after Casey joined her family, Meyer began looking into reading dogs, therapeutic pets that are used in the classroom to help students feel more comfortable about reading.

"She had heard of a dog doing something like this in Guilderland," said Roessleville Principal Suzanne Moore, who said she was open to the idea of having Casey in the classroom. "I had never thought about it before."

But before Casey could join the students, the teacher and principal had to get approval from then-Superintendent of Schools Michael Marcelle.

"We were told no right off the bat," said Moore.

Several factors had to be worked out before Casey could be in the school. For instance, if a child is allergic to dogs, they are placed in another class. If a child is afraid of dogs, Meyer works with the student to try and get him or her used to Casey. If the child does not overcome the fear, he or she is placed in another class.

After "pleading their case," the superintendent eventually agreed to let Casey in the classroom if she did not act up or bite any students.

"I think once we pointed out the benefits to kids, he agreed," said Moore.

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