BELTON, Texas — After the tragic loss of a Miller Heights Elementary School teacher over the holiday break, therapy dogs visited the school to help students and staff work through their grief.
Shelly Splitgerber, also known as Coach S., was killed in a double-murder suicide by her estranged husband. Her son was also shot multiple times and remains in the hospital.
Students who had Splitgerber said they remember her as caring and dedicated.
"She always use to say 'keep it up, Wingo,'" Bella Wingo, a student of Coach S., said. "I really miss her because she was always really nice and encouraging."
Kids and staff were able to pet and play with the dogs as well as write about their memories of Splitgerber. Some said the process helped with the coping process.
"When I first heard about the news I felt sad-- and then when we got to pet the dogs and stuff, it made me feel happier," student Sylas Lopez said. "I wasn't that sad anymore."
School Councillor Munirah Tarver said finding new ways to help students work through grief is a priority.
"I mean you could immediately see their faces open up, their eyes lit up... but having them there wasn't just beneficial for the students," Tarver said. "There were even staff that got on the floor and rolled around and played with the animals."
Students and staff said they hope to see therapy dogs implemented at more schools nationwide.