A Springfield Elementary School class achieved some hefty accomplishments this school year. The 4th graders overcame a lot to score the highest "FCAT Writes" scores in the school, and they're giving the credit to a man and his dog, on the other side of the world.
Some of these Springfield 4th graders started the year struggling in reading. Their teacher Mrs. Mills decided her students needed motivation, so the class adopted a bomb sniffing dog and his handler working in Iraq. Mills says the students connected immediately.
Teacher Robin Mills says, "I had a student who met her reading goals and the other students weren't reading the way they needed to, so I had him write her a letter and she carried it around all day. It really sparked the other kids along. They said if I do it then maybe he'll send me a letter too."
The pen-pals continued to write all school year and Tuesday the class got a big surprise. Princess' handler got a break from Iraq to come visit the students.
Nate Reneau, dog handler, says, "I have perma-grin. These kids are awesome."
Unfortunately, Princess couldn't make the trip. Her cage was too big to fit on the plane into Panama City Airport.
Mrs. Mills' students out-performed the rest of the school on FCAT Writes this year. Every student made above a 3.0. Princess is now retired and her handler Nate is taking some time off as well.