by Lizzy Howard ’24
Trinity welcomes the newest member of our community, Maple! She is our facility dog endeavoring to bring joy and comfort to our students and faculty. In our post-pandemic society, the well-being of the student body is a top priority, so Mr. Cominksy looked for innovative ways to enhance the mental health programs we offer. When Ms. VanMeter suggested an emotional support dog, they determined that it would be a fantastic opportunity to further strengthen the supportive environment of our school. They both had previous experiences with facility dogs, which gave them confidence that bringing Maple to Trinity was a great idea. When Mr. Cominsky and Ms. VanMeter were asked about how they got the idea for this program, they both agreed the goal was to help positively impact the lives of the students.
Maple is already hard at work visiting classrooms and mentor groups. Her goal is to provide support services for all students. She can help support students who may be struggling with issues such as anxiety attacks, those who just need positive reinforcement while tackling challenging subjects, or students who just want a furry shoulder to lean on.
The beautiful white Standard Poodle was brought up through the Growing Up Guide Pup organization in California. When Maple moved to Pennsylvania, her original assignment was to be a service dog for Ms. Linzey Zoccola, the owner/operator of Phoenix Assistance Dogs (PAD). However, Ms. Zoccola selflessly decided to send Maple to a school environment because Maple’s personality thrived on making connections with people. As a facility dog Maple would get all the attention and love she craved. Ms. VanMeter and Maple were certified as a team in August of 2023. Maple underwent training with the PAD and became ready to join the Trinity family. Ms. VanMeter affirms Maple is, “athletic, loving, energetic, and due to her high intelligence and hypoallergenic coat, a perfect dog for our school.” Mr. Cominsky is thankful to Ms. VanMeter and the Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) for allowing Maple to be part of the Trinity family.
Trinity has protocols in place to make sure everyone can safely enjoy her presence. For those with allergies or fear of dogs, they won’t be put in situations where they have to be near Maple. There are opt-outs available for students, and Maple is always leashed. To spend time with Maple, teachers and mentor groups are required to sign up days in advance so that the teacher can check with all the students to make sure there are no concerns. With that being said, Maple has been perfect so far, and we are excited for her to thrive here. Trinity’s Administration hopes Maple will help create a safe, welcoming, and enriching environment that will lead to academic and emotional success. I can attest, from my interactions with Maple, that she brings companionship, fun, and laughter to everyone she meets.