9 Pets That Brightened the Lives of Teachers
Teaching can be—let’s be charitable—challenging. So why do so many corps members and alumni choose to adopt animal companions during their Teach For America experiences? Why invite more responsibility into one’s life?
For alumni like Kylie Hagler (Alabama ’13), her puppy, Sadie, was a blessing, not a burden. “I found myself staying at school until 10 p.m. every night, so I knew I needed a reason to come home,” Hagler says. “Sadie helped me learn how to balance school and me.”
When One Day reached out to gather pet stories and pictures from corps members and alumni, we heard over and over about the emotional benefits of having a four-legged friend—especially during high-stress times of the school year. So feel no shame as you enjoy this collection of cuteness. You’ve earned it.
1. Harper Lee (Oklahoma ’11)
Her Human: Laura Bellis (Oklahoma ’11)
English teacher alert: Bellis named her pup after the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Not pictured: Bellis’s cat, Boo. (Get it?)
2. Jack (R.G.V. ’11)
His Human: Kieley Parker (R.G.V. ’09)
Both of Jack’s parents were ranch-hand cattle-herding dogs. Jack leads a more domestic life—but he did keep an eye on Parker’s now-husband when she brought Jack along on their second date.
3. Sam (New Mexico ’07)
His Human: Dane Anderson (New Mexico ’07)
No one knows Sam's age. Long after Anderson took him in for a night off the freezing streets of the Zuni reservation, his past remains mysterious. A vet once discovered two bullets lodged in his side, unnoticed for years.
4. Monticello (“Monti”) (E.N.C. ’06)
His Human: Dan Kelley (E.N.C. ’05)
Kelley, a lawyer, admits he might be biased, but he thinks Monti is “One Day cover material.”
5. Mississippi (Mississippi ’12)
Her Human: Natalie Owens-Pike (Mississippi ’11)
A night run for gas station fried chicken, renowned in the Delta, came with a side of one stray black cat for Owens-Pike, who brought the feline home to roommates Eugenié George (Mississippi ’11) and Brynn Embley (Mississippi ’12).
6. Jackson (E.N.C. ’15)
His Human: Danielle McDevitt (E.N.C. ’14)
When a student’s family dog had more puppies than they could handle, McDevitt joked that she’d take one. Surprise! Hey, it beats another apple.
7. Roma (Arkansas ’12)
His Human: Melanie Bradshaw (Mississippi ’10)
After Bradshaw took Roma in off the streets of Marianna, Arkansas—temporarily, until she found him a good home—he became deathly ill with parvovirus. Bradshaw hand-fed him back to health, then decided to keep him.
8. Bella (Houston ’07)
Her Human: Sarah Storti (Houston ’07)
Storti says Bella brought “a lot of love and joy” to an otherwise tough first year of teaching—which made it easy to forgive all the chewed up school supplies.
9. Phoebe (South Carolina ’13)
Her Human: Abby Smith (South Carolina ’12)
Smith and her roommate Drew Snyder (South Carolina ’12) wanted a pet to greet them at the door at the end of long teaching days. Smith says Phoebe is “just as quirky” as the Friends character she’s named after.
About the Author
Tim Kennedy (Mississippi ’11) is the former editorial manager of One Day. He joined the magazine in 2013 after teaching English in Marianna, Arkansas.