Bunny Brings Joy to Virtual Elementary School Students

Waffles makes young students smile and keeps them engaged during virtual classes.

Leah + Waffles

Thanks to a rabbit named Waffles, elementary school students are excited to join their virtual classes again.

"Waffles was the perfect classroom pet. All of a sudden, I saw smiles on faces that I hadn't seen since the first week of virtual learning. News of 'Waffles the Rabbit' had spread, and everybody wanted to get to see him."

Can you imagine being a child who now has to adjust to completing their learning at home? That’s what my students do every day, and because of a rabbit named Waffles, their days are now a little brighter. I teach virtual fourth and fifth grades in Blount County, Tennessee this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was having a horrible time getting students to join my virtual lessons and getting them to turn in work was even worse. I was having so much trouble connecting with them and making them want to get up early to “come to school” on the computer.

My 10-year-old students were now in charge of keeping track of time to show up for Google Meets, being self-motivated to complete and turn in schoolwork, all while adjusting to a new school format with virtual classmates. Plus I was lonely, too. While there were some teachers who were teaching their students in person in their classrooms, I was in my room at school alone. So, I decided to bring someone in to keep me company.

Waffles was the perfect classroom pet. No barking, no need to go out for walks, no litter box to scoop. While I typed away and met with my students online, he sat on my lap and kept me company. After I realized how happy Waffles made me, I shared him with my students. He made their day! All of a sudden, I saw smiles on faces that I hadn’t seen since the first week of virtual learning. News of “Waffles the Rabbit” had spread, and everybody wanted to get to see him.

Now, Waffles goes to school with me almost every day. He listens to audiobooks with my students, he joins in on Google Meets, he even gets mail from the boys and girls. Not only does Waffles have virtual friends, he also has in-person friends. Teachers often bring students by for a visit as a reward or incentive. He has truly brought joy to the students at Prospect and Rockford Elementary schools.

Each year, Petco Love Holiday Wishes campaign invites adopters to share stories of how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Leah won Young-Williams Animal Center in Knoxville, Tennessee a 2020 Holiday Wishes award.