spcaLA offers first-of-its-kind Humane Education Elective Program to schools

The first program of its kind in California, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA)’s Humane Education Elective Program increases empathy and prevents violence. Offered to students in the Compton Unified School District (CUSD), the spcaLA program works to bring humane education principles to the classroom.

“What makes the new Humane Education Elective Program unique is the students ‘elect’ to take the class, just as they would any other elective, like art or music,” said Dr. Melanie Wagner, spcaLA Humane Education Director.

The first class of Humane Education students are from Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. Since the beginning of the semester, the students have been working diligently exploring serious and vital topics such as relationship building, diversity, violence prevention, and responsibility. This has been guided by comprehensive classroom curriculum and, as is the spcaLA way, with a little help from shelter dogs. This elective meets the criteria for California Education Code 233.5 and supports anti bullying initiatives.

“spcaLA aims to break the cycle of violence through classroom programs such as these,” said spcaLA President, Madeline Bernstein. “I commend Compton Unified School District on their initiative to adopt this program, which can change the course of students’ lives and ultimately the school and community.”

spcaLA is no stranger to humane education. The Society has been offering Teaching Love and Compassion (TLC)™ program in area schools, since 1998. Students in the TLC program are recommended by their teachers, principals, and/or guidance counselors.

Many of spcaLA’s Teaching Love and Compassion programs have been held at schools within CUSD. Having seen first-hand the benefit, the administrators were eager to include the Humane Education Elective that would benefit an even wider array of students.

“At Jefferson we strive to engage our children through enriching and educational experiences that boost academic success,” said Jefferson Principal, Mario Marcos. “That is why we are proud of our partnership with spcaLA. Our Humane Education class has truly inspired our scholars at Jefferson, instilling in them the respect for domestic animals and all living creatures.”

As the semester winds down for the first class of Humane Education students, plans are already in place to offer the class next school year at Jefferson. “The ultimate goal of the Humane Education Elective Program initiative is to train classroom teachers to implement the elective in schools throughout Los Angeles, California, and the nation,” said Dr. Wagner.

On May 28, students will discuss their cumulative Community Projects and bid a fond farewell to the shelter dogs whom they worked with during the year.