Students from the Alternative Learning Program at School 12 are learning patience, leadership and responsibility from some unlikely four-legged friends. Once a week, students head up to Hoosick Falls where they spend time at Higher Ground Farm for horse therapy.
Students work with the horses in a large, indoor arena. They learn to saddle the horses and to lead the horses where needed.
8th Grade student Jah’zay DeJesus admits that he first agreed to be a part of the program so that he could get out of the classroom for a bit, but quickly realized the value.
“It’s something different and it forces you to be responsible,” he said. “You have to make sure the horses are groomed and that you put on their halter correctly.”
He went on to describe out the horses will listen to you but only if you’re confident and assertive.
According to School 12 teacher and program coordinator Cara Parker, horses require strong yet calm and assertive human leaders. Students are learning to control their behavior and exert confidence when leading the horses. In addition, students are learning to properly represent themselves and the school district in a new environment.
“It’s nice to see them running around with the horses and enjoying themselves,” said Parker. “I have one student who just has a smile planted on his face the whole time. I’ve never seen him smile so much in one day.”