Simon the Therapy Dog and Barbara Mayer

I have been working with therapy dogs since my days as a psychology student. Through my work with therapy dogs I have seen firsthand the positive impact they can have on people. The use of therapy dogs has many benefits including reduced anxiety, decreased blood pressure, increased socialization, and more. Seeing people struggling through such difficulties and the impact dogs can have on their well-being drove me to raise and work with therapy dogs. For three years Simon and I have been coming to the Academy Prep campus as part of their English and History classes. When Simon is in class the students take turns reading to him as he cuddles up on their laps. They also practice presentations with Simon, as he will sit and listen to them. Practicing with Simon is easier because the students are not as nervous as they would be with an adult or another student.

Karen Kress, Sierra Club Inner City Outings

Sierra Club Inner City Outings’ mission is to explore, enjoy and protect. Once a month during the school year, we take the Academy Prep students on various nature-based trips. We take them to the beach, hiking, canoeing. We end each year with a camping trip. In order for the partnership to work, we need a group that is very organized, and we certainly found that in Academy Prep. We appreciate how well behaved the kids are. We haven’t always had that with other groups. We appreciate the mission of Academy Prep, which is unrivaled in the community.

Dawn Truax, Stageworks Theatre

Academy Prep has been a great partner with us. It’s a lovely place to be involved in and a great experience. You don’t have that universally. It’s a positive atmosphere that is easy to work in. They’ve got a handle on how to get into the community and make a difference. The set up is very smart and enlightened and showing great results. If you want to make a difference in our community, it’s a great place to start. Our drumming and drama programs teach conflict resolution, team building, and basic communication skills.

Timon Sullivan, Ogden & Sullivan P.A.

Currently, the lawyers from my  firm and I participate in three programs at Academy Prep: a judicial roundtable which brings in local, state and federal judges for a question-and-answer session with the students, a mediation program in which Ogden & Sullivan’s attorneys coach competing teams of eighth graders in a mock mediation involving a fictional dispute, and a mock trial program which culminates with a trial before a real judge at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. In total, eight attorneys commit over 200 hours of their time annually towards these programs. Through these ongoing programs, we have developed strong relationships with the students. After they see your face a few times, they begin to warm up to you. I remember visiting the school when  the eighth graders were preparing to graduate in the spring of the first year we were involved- they excitedly came up to tell me which private high schools had accepted them and where they had decided to attend. It was rewarding to share their excitement and to see them being given the opportunity to excel. As the Academy Prep students we work with have learned more about the law through our programs, several of them have told us they would like to become lawyers. I hope someday one of them comes to work for Ogden & Sullivan so we can see our relationship come full circle.