Students at Three Elementary Schools Meet an Author and Her Determined Dog

This winter the Brackett, Hardy, and Thompson Elementary Schools had some very special visitors. Students always enjoy meeting and hearing from authors, but the visit by Maureen Harrington, who grew up in Arlington and attended Stratton, was especially exciting. Not only did Ms. Harrington read and discuss Ivy, the Very Determined Dog, the book  that she co-authored with her husband Chris. She was accompanied by the main character, Ivy the French bulldog, who was resting beside her.

Ivy’s story of determination began when she turned three years of age. On her birthday, it was clear that her back legs had become paralyzed. This turned out to be due to a rare genetic spinal disease. But as they looked at Ivy in her wheelchair and watched the dog demonstrate how she gets around, it was clear to the students that this hasn’t stopped her from living a full and happy life.

The presentation at Hardy was organized by the PTO, and Enrichment Assemblies Committee Chair Laura Saylor shares that the “...visit was a real highlight of the year. It was the best assembly we’ve ever had at Hardy.” In a moving presentation, Ms. Harrington shared how inspired she was by Ivy’s determination and resilience and also shared some of her personal story. Ms. Harrington informed the audience that she had struggled with learning disabilities when she was in school. Because of this she never imagined that she would publish a book some day. Her own struggles and those of her dog convinced Ms. Harrington that “You will always have challenges in your life, but like Ivy, you can find ways to overcome them.”

During the visits, Ms. Harrington took questions from the children who were very engaged in the presentation. Hardy and Thompson Library Teacher Laura Atlee believes that “Author visits provide incredible learning opportunities for our students. Some are hesitant to read books. They find them intimidating or assume that the books will be boring. Author visits bring books to life. It is important for our students to meet people who strive to share their written creations with others.” 

The author visit was an all-school event at Brackett with the author sharing Ivy and her story in two hour-long assemblies, one for Kindergarten through second grade and one for grades three through five. The presentations at Hardy and Thompson were for grades Kindergarten through three. The author donated copies of the book to each school for inclusion in their libraries. Students were also able to purchase a “PAWtrographed” copy of the book by ordering in advance.


Order form used prior to the author visit so that students could obtain the book, Ivy, the Very Determined Dog.