Redwood Students Create Valentines for Mistreated Dogs

Students made Valentines that will be sent to the Dogs Deserve Better organization.

Redwood students in grades kindergarten to two created Valentines to send to the Dogs Deserve Better organization. Photos by Melinda Stevens
Redwood students in grades kindergarten to two created Valentines to send to the Dogs Deserve Better organization. Photos by Melinda Stevens

Redwood Elementary students have a plan this Valentine’s Day and it’s to spread love to mistreated dogs. On Thursday, students in kindergarten through fifth grade made Valentines to give to the Dogs Deserve Better organization, a non-profit that aims to stop the suffering of chained and penned dogs.

The organization will send the donated, homemade cards to people who mistreat their dogs in an effort to encourage them to treat their dogs with respect and love.

“We are trying to convince owners who aren’t bringing their dogs inside from the cold to let them inside,” Jennifer Paull, Redwood teacher and organizer of the event, said at the event Thursday. “We need to get dogs inside and we need to make beautiful valentines that will convince the owners to treat their dog as a member of the family.”

Dogs Deserve Better is in its 11th year of giving valentine cards to owners of mistreated animals and winter is the most crucial time to reach out to the owners, according to founder and director Tamira Thayne in a press release on the organization website.

“Winter is the best time to reach out to those who chain and pen their dogs, and Valentine's Day is the perfect opportunity to show these forgotten canines a little love,” Thayne said in the release.  “Every winter our rescuers see dogs that have frozen in the snow, suffered frostbite or otherwise endured horrific living conditions because of the longstanding misperception that it is ok to chain a dog outside in any kind of weather.”

The release also stated the group sends a coupon for a treat and a brochure for the dog’s caretakers with each Valentine, encouraging them to bring their dogs into the home and family or to release the dogs to loving inside homes and families.

The organization has sent thousands of valentine cards over the years, including nearly 20,000 in last year’s initiative alone. This year, the group hopes to reach 20,000.

Paull has been bringing the organizations Valentine initiative to Redwood School for eight years.

 “We do this because it is part of showing our heart at Redwood School,” Paull said at the event.

In addition to the card making, the students listened as Paull read a book entitled, “Buddy Unchained,” which is based on a true story and about a dog named Buddy who recalls his former life of mistreatment after he is rescued and happy in a new home.

All of the students will complete their Valentine by Jan. 27, as they will be shipped soon after to the organization so they can send them to the owners beginning Feb. 7.

For more information on the organization or if you would like to send a Valentine, visit the Dogs Deserve Website here.

Tom January 24, 2014 at 08:00 AM
WTF? This is what our students are doing in school?! This is what we spend $20,000 Per student a year on? Who's idiotic idea is it to send valentines to dogs? It is no wonder our schools are failing
john anthony prignano January 24, 2014 at 12:06 PM
The public schools do not exist to educate children. If you ever doubted that , read the current teachers' contract and doubt no more.
john anthony prignano January 24, 2014 at 02:10 PM
In the current contract, the School Board reduced grammar school teachers' "required" instructional time by about 100 hours. They were required to stay a half hour after the regular end of school to provide extra instruction to students. They're still required to stay a half hour later, but the contractually required instruction part has been eliminated. An additional fee is charged. {$20,000+ per student??} No one pays out of pocket, no instruction. 60 hours, 70 hours minimum, GONE. Now, see the School Superintendents' "cap"? Chris Christie is the best friend the NJEA ever had. First, the cap affected no more than 250 people. And it didn't affect them either."Individual waivers can be approved in Districts with 10,000 students. A Superintendent can receive $10,000 for each additional District they supervise, and they can receive a stipend of $2,500 if there's a High School in the District. Contracts signed before the cap took effect are exempt. Sixteen Districts are exempt. Salaries do not include bonuses and other non - salary compensation. Superintendents may also be eligible for up to 15 percent bonuses." THERE IS NO CAP. The sky's the limit. Christie is a puppet of the public education bureaucracy and the teachers' union.Yet another professional wrestling scenario. Christie - combative, confrontational, a man who fires from the hip, a bully, etc. A puppet with all the a fore mentioned qualities is no less a puppet. He knows full well that every year the school day contains less instructional time than the year before, {something he's personally contributed to } and now he calls for a longer school day and year. Pathetic. GIVE YOUR FRIENDS MONEY! Look at his RECORD on education.
Tom January 25, 2014 at 10:07 AM
I encourage residents to contact the school and demand that this program be STOPPED during school hours... If Miss Paul would like to continue The program, she should do so on her time, on Saturdays and Sundays and off school campus. Can't believe this crap has been going on for 11 years!!
john anthony prignano January 25, 2014 at 03:20 PM
"Every grammar school teacher shall have one duty - free lunch period, and one preparation period per day. When it is reasonable, teachers shall also be granted one 30 minute personal prep period. Preparation periods will be ANY period for which certificated personnel are assigned primary teaching duties. These include, but are not limited to, Physical Education, Art, Music, instrumental and vocal, and Glee club. NOTWITHSTANDING the foregoing, for World Languages, teachers shall be granted prep time at the reasonable discretion of the building principal and supervisor. Many teachers are not proficient in the World Language they're "teaching", { students teach other students, - The SALES program } and the penmanship instruction provided is definitely not sufficient to achieve proficiency: "A program that does not offer a sufficient amount of contact time and frequency of instruction assumes less student proficiency from the outset and denies district students access to excellence and equity in achieving the standards" In other words, they're a waste of time. The school board and the administrators and the teachers' union are rapidly phasing classroom teachers out of the classroom. If we look at the World Languages and penmanship curricula, that may not necessarily be a bad thing. But this also begs the question, what are we paying these people an average of $100+ an hour for?
Lawrence McAbee January 25, 2014 at 04:06 PM
Man, you two guys must just be a laugh riot at parties. Can I suggest a stage name, the obvious one is taken, so perhaps "Cruel and Crueler"? Maybe "Get off my Lawn Man" and his sidekick "Decrease the Surplus population Boy"? Kids are writing valentines to mistreated dogs, and we should "demand" it stop? Yeah, that's going on to the top of my list of problems.
Tom January 25, 2014 at 07:03 PM
Lawrence you are a clown... Don't forget to send a dog a Valentine card this year?
Josephine Battiato January 25, 2014 at 08:21 PM
I believe you are missing the point completely. There are so many lessons being taught. Let's begin with human compassion. Perhaps you were to actually read/view/participate in the lesson, you would have better understanding. I don't know you as a person, but from your response I feel you may benefit greatly. Next, how about the simple, important, skill of writing a friendly letter? I'm sure older students were assisting younger grades, peer teaching and writing. How wonderful that the entire school participated in a charitable event as a school community. What a valuable experience of belonging, and having their efforts acknowledged. An open mind is always willing to learn, and can absorb information. Congratulations to Jen Paull and the staff at Redwood School for encouraging open minds and teaching the whole child. Perhaps some people could make better use of their $20,000 to educate a closed, ignorant mind....just a though.
David January 25, 2014 at 08:32 PM
Tom- As a product of the West Orange school system and subsequent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, I can assure you this project is more than worthwhile. It teaches children writing skills and compassion toward animals, both of which I would hope you think are valid causes. I hope some day the students who participate in this project are able to muster up comments that include more intelligent language than "WTF" and can express their opinions without resorting to just calling people "clowns" when they disagree with them.
Tom January 25, 2014 at 08:43 PM
Josephine Nonsense If Miss Paul and the other teachers want to support the charity they should do so on their own time and their own dime... Just a thought It is idiotic to have school children up till the fifth grade writing and sending valentines to dogs... Just a thought... Once again West Orange is pissing the tax payers money away
Tom January 25, 2014 at 09:05 PM
David I think a more worthwhile lesson would be to teach of the origin of St. Valentine's Day and St. Valentine (not associating it with with dog abuse)...And not having students writing and sending valentines to dogs and dog abusers... This is the result of teachers run amok
Josephine Battiato January 25, 2014 at 09:11 PM
I am going to respectfully agree to disagree. I honestly don't feel the lesson is about sending Valentines to dogs. That sound so trivial, and I honestly feel there is greater depth. You are entitled to your opinion, I am no trying to change that. I am just offering another point of view. I believe in the public schools, and support those that care for our children.
john anthony prignano January 25, 2014 at 10:39 PM
November 7 2013 - New Jersey students scored among the highest in the nation on standardized tests used to show how states are doing when compared to one another; On math 49% of both fourth and eighth graders in New Jersey tested proficient and above, compared with 36% of fourth graders and 36% of eighth graders nationally. In reading, New Jersey fourth grade students tested 42% proficient or above, and 46% of eighth graders tested proficient or above, compared with 35% of fourth graders and 36% of eighth graders nationally. This is an exercise in comparing profound failure to abysmal failure in a positive way. Ah, but look at the lessons learned from the Valentine's Day cards; Compassion, the simple, important skill of writing a friendly letter, peer teaching and writing, encouraging open minds, teaching the whole child. Was grammar and spelling checked, and corrected, or did the religion of self - esteem once again trump standards? Is it too much to ask that when students write from their hearts with compassion, that they also write with good grammar and punctuation and words that are spelled correctly?? Who, IF ANYONE, helped the kindergartners with their spelling, sentence structures, punctuations and definitions, FIFTH GRADERS? WHERE WAS THE $100+ an hour CLASSROOM TEACHER??" Statement; "I believe in the public schools", where well over HALF of New Jersey fourth and eighth graders are failing reading and/or math, and nationally the PUBLIC SCHOOLS are doing much worse. "I believe in the public schools", Camden, Newark, Paterson Jersey City, Passaic, East Orange, Asbury Park, and Irvington have lots and lots of public schools and lots and lots of state tax dollars. And they're Horrendous. Many of the test scores in West Orange are quite inferior or worse, at $20,000+ per child. In the current contract the school board agreed to eliminate approximately ONE HUNDRED HOURS of grammar school classroom instructional time, and all forms of monetary compensation went up significantly. I would think that the Teachers' Union made demands at least equal to and probably greater than what the School Board agreed to. Suburban poverty has increased 65% since 2010. " I believe in the public schools and those who support our children"
Tom January 25, 2014 at 10:58 PM
if this lesson is on compassion then Let's teach compassion. I think a worthwhile lesson in compassion would be to send valentines to the unborn child... A valentine to the mother who's considering to abort her child... A Valentine to a mother who decided to keep her child... Tell them there are options for the unborn child... Show them pictures of the unborn child as you would of the abused dogs... Let our children decide. Somehow I don't think it would get the same support from the teachers as sending valentines to Dogs and their abusers... Just a thought
john anthony prignano January 25, 2014 at 11:50 PM
Tom - Wonderful comments
Josephine Battiato January 26, 2014 at 12:12 AM
Tom, valid point, and I understand your point of view. Please, Let's be realistic. It's elementary, public, school. Obviously, you CAN NOT address the topic you suggest. I believe using the idea of dogs and abuse to teach compassion is more realistic considering the venue an audience. Again, I agree to disagree with both you and john. Everyone has an opinion, priorities differ, and we all have our own way of thinking. I would like to be optimistic and believe that educators and students are doing their best.
Cedric Edwards January 26, 2014 at 09:40 AM
Stop bashing this article and making it a political issue. It is extremely rude and inappropriate to take an article like this and turn it around. If the school systems bother you that much, move out of West Orange.
Josephine Battiato January 26, 2014 at 10:58 AM
We'll stated Cedric. Thank you
john anthony prignano January 26, 2014 at 12:27 PM
Cedric - Your words do not fall on deaf ears. True Believer - public school advocate Richard Codey and his wife, who teaches public school in West Orange, moved to Roseland years ago. While the Codeys were residents of West Orange, both of their sons attended and graduated Montclair Kimberly Academy. Then - Councilman Kevin Keogh, who's wife is a public school teacher, moved to Roseland many years ago. Public school teachers put their children in private schools at a ratio of 2 to 1 to the general public. Several hundred West Orange teachers, many of whom were born and raised in West Orange, have moved to other towns. Quite often these towns don't offer much, if any, diversity. In all her years in the West Orange public schools, my daughter had only one teacher who lived in West Orange. That teacher's son attended and graduated Seton Hall Prep. Hundreds upon hundreds of West Orange teachers, firemen, police officers and Township employees, many of whom attended the West Orange public schools, live elsewhere, or have their children in private schools. Cedric, rest assured your message is being heard, and it will continue to be heard for many years to come, ESPECIALLY by current and future West Orange public school teachers.
Lawrence McAbee January 26, 2014 at 12:55 PM
"Your words do not fall on deaf ears" but now I am going to spend at least 5 blathering sentences showing that they fell on deaf ears. If dogmatically repeating the same thing over and over again won arguments, John would be king of the world. To sum up the rational position here: All people deserve respect, but not all positions deserve respect. Taking a feel good article about kids writing valentines to mistreated dogs and trying to turn it into a repeated diatribe against West Orange public schools, and dragging in abortion into the discussion represents a repulsive position which should have heaped upon it all the scorn it can carry.
Tom January 26, 2014 at 04:26 PM
I don't believe this was a feel-good story I believe it serves as a bellwether to West Orange's public schools... It is ironic that those who claim to be tolerant and that others are entitled to their opinions...suggest you move out... If you dare to disagree with them...
Lawrence McAbee January 26, 2014 at 04:55 PM
I love this move, it puts the crackpot in the position of being some brave, 'voice in the wilderness' hero, and everyone else becomes the problem. Here is what really happened: you and John took a nice story, and went so over the top with vitriol and nonsense that multiple people called you on it. Even the people who tried to be reasonable and polite were dismissed with the same nonsensical responses as me (who went the sarcastic route). Let me break this down: Winners: mistreated dogs, kids, and everyone who took the time to call out nonsense when they saw it. Losers: divisive politics, nonsense, and its allies.
Tom January 26, 2014 at 07:07 PM
Lawrence You suggest stage names of Cruel and Crueler Because someone disagrees with having West Orange schoolchildren sending St. Valentine letters to dogs and dog abusers during school hours. I have Watched you target Others for sometime now... Now you have to set your sights on me... You are an Internet bully And as I said before a clown
Melinda Stevens (Editor) January 26, 2014 at 08:25 PM
Everyone, say what you would like about the article-everyone is entitled to their own opinion-however, please refrain from calling each other names directly or indirectly in these comments.


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