After 20 years as an educator, the last 15 as leader of the Brighton Area Schools Pack of Dogs, Karen Storey has been honored upon her retirement.
A celebration was held Monday for Storey during which she was presented a Congressional tribute from U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) that noted the Pack of Dogs origin in 2008 when Storey, a middle school special education teacher, “witnessed the positive response kids had to a fellow teacher’s dog. That prompted her to research the physical, social, and emotional benefits of therapy dogs on students. Spurred by her research, she approached then-superintendent Greg Gray with a proposal to add a therapy dog to the building. Less than a decade later, with the full support of the community, Brighton became the only district in the State to own a therapy dog for every single building, and several for the high school.”
The program, however, has had an impact far beyond the district, with the dogs providing comfort and support in the aftermath of both the school shootings at Oxford High School in 2021 and Michigan State University this past February.
“Not only has the Pack of Dogs shown up for other schools, but the program regularly fields calls from school districts around the Nation who want to replicate this success, seeking advice from the leaders of the Pack,” states the tribute. “From community donations of funds, food, veterinary care, and so much more that make this program possible, to the handlers who welcome these dogs into their homes, to the students who welcome them into their hearts, the BAS Pack of Dogs is a model for schools nationwide, and its founders deserve to be named Top Dog.”
Also presented on Monday was another Special Tribute signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state Rep. Ann Bollin (R-Brighton) and state Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) that lauded Storey for following “the noble pursuit of educating young people, a tradition that always has been an important part of Michigan’s heritage. In her work in the Brighton Area School District, she has instilled life-long skills and helped build self-confidence in thousands of youngsters who have grown to adulthood as capable and upstanding citizens.”
Raised in Brighton, Storey graduated from Brighton High School in 1995 and has four sons who either attend or have graduated from Brighton Area Schools. Her husband, Scott, also works for the district as a behavioral management specialist.
In addition to creating the Pack of Dogs program, she also served as a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) facilitator for Malty Intermediate School students requiring additional support.
Despite retiring as leader of the Pack of Dogs, Storey plans to remain active with the group as the handler of Chevy, the newest addition to the group of social emotional dogs.