A New Meaning to “Teacher’s Pet”

CHS has several classes in which the teacher doesn’t just take attendance for the students, but for animals too. The animals range from hedgehogs to geckos to parakeets to fish.

Most of the animals reside in the science department. All of the teachers believe their pets add something special to the class.

“They provide something for the kids to do when they finish their work,” said physical science teacher, Deb White. “It’s a positive distraction for them.”

White has two hedgehogs, Chai and Galileo and two chinchillas,  Nef and Odeo.

Biology teacher Amy Gerber has been keeping pets in the school since she started working in Cody in 2001.

“I really love animals,” said Gerber. “I have two parakeets, two leopard geckos, one finch, and a bearded dragon.”

While most teachers keep their pets in their rooms, Gerber keeps hers in the green house adjacent to her classroom. Since the animals aren’t in her classroom, if  students  finish their work, they can go play with the animals in the green house.

White thinks the pets serve very important purposes in the classroom.

“I think it teaches them responsibility. They have to feed and take care of the animals,” said White. “More importantly, some students have trouble connecting with other people, but they connect so well with the animals.”

“The pets provide teaching experiences,” said science teacher Dean Olenik. “When Queen Leonidas (the corn snake) laid her eggs, it provided a great excuse to talk about reproduction.”

Olenik has a corn snake (Queen Leonidas), six salamanders, a rose tarantula (Rosey) and a goldfish. All of his pets have been donated to him over the years.

“The reason I keep reptiles and amphibians is because they are low maintenance,” said Olenik. “I can leave for two or three days without having to worry about food. With a mammal, you have to constently feed and take care of them.”

Erika Quick has only one pet: a Betta fish named Wired.

“Two of my students snuck in and put him in the room before school one day,” said Quick. “He almost died a few days ago because someone forgot to feed him, but now he’s doing well.”

All of the teachers easily find a reason to keep the pets. The pets make the room unique and give the students something to look forward to seeing every day.