State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas recently visited The Austin Centers for Exceptional Students (the ACES) to present the schools’ cofounder Francine Austin with the 2017–2018 School of Excellence Award from the National Association of Special Education Teachers.
While visiting the Phoenix West Campus, Superintendent Douglas also took the opportunity to meet with students and the center’s therapy animals. All four ACES campuses are home to members of the animal therapy program, with more animals rotating between campuses. The program works with approximately 20 different species (not counting humans), and includes everything from tiny tortoises to pint-sized ponies. (Okay, it’s actually a miniature horse.) As students care for the animals, they learn compassion and responsibility.