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Mrs. Marilyn Ellis has lived in Jefferson County her entire life.  She married the boy next door after he came home from the war.  Together, they built a home that she still occupies to this day. In a time when not a lot of women went to college, Ms. Ellis pursued higher education. She enrolled in many different classes, botany being one of her favorites, but found education to be her passion.  Ms. Ellis was an elementary school teacher in House Springs for the duration of her career. Although she has been retired for some time, Ms. Ellis’ students still recognize her out in the community, which is a sign of the real impact she had on our community. It takes big hears to shape young minds and Mrs. Ellis may have one of the biggest hearts of all.   

She and her husband raised two children and she now has two grandchildren pursuing higher education at Mizzou. In her retirement she enjoys day trips with friends and spending time in her garden.  She regularly visits the YMCA to stay active. 

This is a great honor for our program and we are thankful for our new found friendship.  Marilyn, thank you for your many years of dedicated service to children in Jefferson County and we will do our best to live up to our new namesake!


According to the National Assessment of Education Progress, 32% of fourth graders read below basic grade levels on national standardized tests.  State and national testing occurs for most children in 3rd grade when they are "learning to read" but by 4th grade, they are expected to be "reading to learn".  Researchers agree that reading and reading comprehension are essential to eliminating the performance gaps between students.  These items are critical factors in determining who will succeed and who will fail in their education experience.  If students are reading at or above grade level by the 3rd grade, the prospects of their successfully finishing high school increases. Our program aims to assist those children that have fallen behind to reach proper reading levels.

The Children’s Reading Program is designed to serve two purposes:

First, the dog acts as an incentive for children in a classroom to read more and increases their interest in and excitement for reading.  The dog can also act as a topic for writing exercises.  

Second, the dog can be partnered with those children needing extra help, whether it is with pace, comprehension or pronunciation.  These children and the dog can work separately from the class, offering a non-judgmental atmosphere which helps instill confidence and self-esteem in the children the program serves.  

How much does the program cost? 
Absolutely nothing!  The program is staffed by volunteers.  These volunteers, along with their personal dogs, complete a specialized training course in order to participate in Tails with Tales Reading Program.  All of the materials supplied and used in the program are provided free of charge. 

How often are sessions held?
Scheduling can be for once each week, twice a month, once each month, etc.  It can be personalized to work with the teacher’s curriculum for the entire school year and is customizable to each classroom's needs.

Our program is flexible to the needs of participating locations and this program can be customized for each, even offering visits year round if that is the desire of your location.  

How many volunteers are in each session?
When used in a classroom setting we recommend only one volunteer and their dog.  Having just one team in the room allows the children to gain a sense of pride and ownership by having their own “canine classmate”. 

When the program is presented in a public library setting there can be several teams present because in the public setting there are more children present for each session.  And, it may not be the same children at each session.  

Can we do fundraising for the program?

Yes!  Even though the program is offered at no charge to area schools and libraries, there are costs involved.  Fundraisers are a great way for teachers and students to participate in raising money for the program.

If you or your group are interested in having a fundraiser for the organization, please contact us here to discuss your ideas.  


Contact us today to receive free visits from a Tails with Tales Team or to get involved with our program.
636.232.2338 or click here


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