Volunteer brings dog to Parrish school

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PARRISH - Over the last month, we've brought you special reports about the state of education on the Suncoast.

Tonight, we're focusing on the impact volunteers have on our schools.

School volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. At Williams Elementary School in Parrish, Kathy Hysmith brings her dog "Spirit" to school each week. First graders at the school choose a book and then read it to Spirit.

Spirit is an ambassador dog for Southeastern Guide Dogs. While a health problem prevented Spirit from becoming a guide dog, he's perfect as a reading partner.

Teachers say he instills a love of reading in her students, which is what all teachers strive for. "It encourages them to read. Some of the kids who aren't as motivated to read, they want to. They practice their books. They pull them out so they can read to Spirit. It’s an excitement for them," says Teacher Melissa Andrews.

"The kids look forward to Spirit coming in, she comes in every week and they have a book that they get to read to her and it’s fun for them, they can read and if they stumble on a word, she doesn't correct them and it helps build their confidence, their self-esteem just by having fun reading," says Hysmith.