Katie Miller, who uses a therapy dog, Ryder, to connect with children at the Phillips Special Education Day School in Annandale, was named “Related Services Provider of the Year” by the National Association of Private Special Education Centers.
Ryder, an affectionate golden retriever mix, was trained as a service dog. Miller uses Ryder as a means of communication for children with limited verbal capacity and as a loving connection to those who are reluctant to join with others. Students also learn about responsibility and work by helping Miller take care of Ryder.
The Phillips school, a component of the Phillips Programs for Children and Families, serves students ages 6-22 who have significant learning and emotional challenges and have met with repeated failure and frustration at other schools.