GLOUCESTER — Gloucester Police Chief Edward Conley is pleased to share that kindergarten and first-grade students at Gloucester Public Schools each received a free book today about Ace, the city’s community resource dog.
Ace, an English Golden Retriever, joined the Gloucester Police Department in November 2020. He works closely alongside his handler, School Resource Officer Peter Sutera, in the Gloucester Public Schools. Ace is trained to provide comfort and help de-escalate school-based conflicts and situations concerning children in need, primarily those with ADD, ADHD, who are on the autism spectrum or have other behavioral problems. Ace also is able to provide comfort to children who may be experiencing or have experienced trauma.
Approximately 550 books, titled “Ace, the Community Resource Dog” were delivered by the First R Foundation to Gloucester’s public elementary schools today, where they were distributed to kindergarten and first-grade students. Books were distributed to each second, third, fourth and fifth-grade classroom, and each classroom in kindergarten through Grade 5 also received a stuffed “Ace” animal.
The initiative began with a $5,000 donation from the Gloucester Education Foundation, and the books were printed by students and instructor Mark Blanchett at Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School this winter. An additional $4,000 grant from the First R Foundation supported the Community Impact Unit in launching the stuffed animal program, and additionally helped the department purchase Ace.
The Gloucester Police Department also raised approximately $1,000 selling copies of the book and stuffed animals in the community. All proceeds will continue to support the Community Impact Unit’s various programs. Those that would like to purchase a book and/or stuffed animal to support the CIU and Ace can contact Police Lt. Jeremiah Nicastro at [email protected].
“The First R Foundation is always looking for opportunities to get students excited about reading at a young age,” said Carol Earle, a member of the First R Foundation’s Board. “We’re thrilled to have been able to partner with the Gloucester Police Department and the district to share these books, as we know Ace is a beloved, familiar presence in the classroom and that personal connection makes this book special.”
A video was also shared with students today, linked here, featuring Officer Sutera reading the book.
“This was such a kind gesture by the First R Foundation and Gloucester Education Foundation, and we’re so excited to be able to share Ace’s story with the students. They light up whenever Ace is around and it’s rewarding to be able to use that connection to encourage reading,” Officer Sutera said.
The book was written by School Resource Officer Mike Scola, and features facts about Ace, his daily routines and responsibilities as a community resource dog.
About the First R Foundation
The First R program was started by Pat Earle in 2004, and serves kindergarten and first-grade students in Gloucester and Rockport Public Schools as well as area private schools.
The First R Foundation works to foster and grow reading and comprehension skills among students by having professional, political and civic leaders of the Cape Ann communities visit classrooms to read books aloud to children directly. The storytime visits emphasize the value of reading and empowers students in their community by meeting local leaders in the classroom.