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How this precious pup helps Richmond students

RICHMOND, Va. -- Energy levels during recess at William Fox Elementary in Richmond always run high.

“Every single day is full of excitement,” teacher Jessica Blumberg said.

When recess wraps up, the students in Ms. Blumberg’s kindergarten class get down to business, and extra help arrives on four paws.

See, it’s time for reading and writing  -- and there’s nothing like a dog to help with that.

In here, ‘See Spot Run’ takes on a new meaning.

The students roar when, Jax, a King Charles Spaniel, trots into the room. Jax ranks as one of the most popular substitute teachers in the school.

This isn’t just play time with a pup. Ms. Blumberg says her friend’s dog removes the jitters of learning how to read and write.

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“It is something that is not judgmental,” Blumberg said. “(Jax) doesn’t know what words they are supposed to read. It frees them up and makes them more excited to read."

Recent studies showed children benefit socially and emotionally when reading to animals.

It is tough to say just who enjoys this lesson plan more.

Fox principal Daniela Jacobs said her furry substitute is a welcome addition to her staff.

“I would love to have about 23 Mr. Jax so he can be in each classroom,” Ms. Jacobs said. “It is one of the most beautiful things to see to walk out and see a bunch of kids reading to a bunch of dogs as if the world depended on it.”

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Back in Blumberg’s class, her students vie for Jax’s attention. Whether it's fact or fiction or poetry or prose.

“I hope he keeps his eyes open when I read to him,” one little boy said.

“It has made such difference. Even on Monday they are preparing for what they’ll read on Friday,” Blumberg said.

The pint-sized pooch promises to listen.

Jax just asks for the occasional treat and head rub in return. Looks like another successful chapter added to this furry tail.

“I really do hope it becomes something that more schools will be doing,” Blumberg said.

Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.

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