This month, Selma High School and Second Chance Animal shelter will begin a unique after school program that blends academic skills and human behavior while teaching students about animal behavior. “It teaches kids how to be confident, be compassionate and just kind of all-around life skills while incorporating humane skills,” said Sarah Trujillo Chambless, president of Second Chance.

Chambless said Mutt-i-grees Curriculum helps bridge humane education with social and emotional learning. It increases children’s academic skills, while raising awareness of important humane issues and taking the notion that adopting a shelter pet is a responsible choice.

The lessons will be taught by Chambless and will be presented in five units: Achieving Awareness, Finding feelings, Encouraging Empathy, Cultivating Cooperation and Dealing with Decisions. Activities and readings include feature lessons on dog behavior developed with dog behavior expert Cesar Millan.

According to Cesar Millan’s website, he came to the United States and worked his way toward being a nationally recognized dog trainer. His two missions are being accomplished in part though the Mutt-i-grees curriculum.

“One is to confront the global issue of canine abandonment by giving ‘unadoptable’ dogs a second chance at life. The other is to teach you how to be a pack leader and achieve balance and harmony with your dogs,” Millan said.  

Chambless attends Animal Behavior College online and will graduate this month with a focus on dog training and shelter animals. She will bring in certified therapy dogs to the school when working with the students. The after school program will be held at the school.  

The Second Chance Animal Shelter is a new nonprofit organization that is in the finishing phase of building and will take over the city ran facility within the next month. The shelter will focus on getting wandering dogs adopted out and will run solely on volunteer help. The skills the students learn in the after school program will enable them to be valuable volunteers. Chambless hopes that the kids will sign up and volunteer at the shelter on the weekends.

Scott Robertson, Selma City Council member and secretary of Second Chance Animal Shelter, said that it is important to involve the youth at a young age. Robertson said that he feels that the love that a young person can discover while volunteering at the shelter may help them in ways they never imagined.   

Selma High Principal Mark Babiarz said the after school program is open to any student at Selma High every school day from 3:30 to 6:15 p.m. Each month different classes are offered for students that include academic assistance, academic enrichment and physical enrichment.

Some examples are: Math tutorial, credit recovery, study hall, essay writing tutorial, ping pong club, creative writing and foods. They also have after school programs that teach fundamentals in baseball, basketball, strength conditioning and soccer.

“Students are not required to attend any specific days or to stay any set amount of time,” Babiarz said. “The goal of the after school program is to provide any student at Selma High academic help along with other experiences that they would not usually be able to have outside of school.”

Babiarz said that the partnership will make the Selma community a better place.

“To have students who are educated and trained to assist and facilitate the workings of the Second Chance Animal Shelter means that we will have future adults who have the empathy and knowledge to deal with animals who are less fortunate than our own pets,” Babiarz said. “Building a community’s capacity with students and adults who understand and care for animals can only make that community a better place to live and work for everyone.”

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