A Marine, a Dog and a Book

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Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)

“It’s a We Thing.” Matthew Eline, the new principal at Saunders Middle School, embraced his school’s motto by challenging his staff and students in a schoolwide initiative grounded in reading the book Craig and Fred. This past spring Eline purchased the books for all staff members and encouraged students to borrow or purchase the book and read it over the summer.

It was challenging to select a book title that both the faculty and students would enjoy reading. Choosing a book with the dog angle helped draw some in. “After all, who doesn’t love a good warm-hearted love story between a man and a dog,” says Cheryl Phillips, Saunders Middle School’s Instructional Technology Coach. Saunders Middle School teachers have developed lesson plans to tie each subject area in with the content of the book.

Craig and Fred is a story about a man who saved a dog, but in the end, it was the dog who really saved the man. They rescued each other. During his time in war-torn Afghanistan, Sergeant Grossi had only seen mean-looking, starving dogs, just trying to survive in a war zone. The dogs had never known a safe home. One particular dog kept hanging around near him, seemingly different than the others. Taking a chance, Sergeant Grossi moved closer and offered the dog a small piece of jerky. Remarkably, the dog wagged his tail. Astonished, Craig knew at that moment that if this dog could wag his tail, sending the message of stubborn positivity while on a dangerous battlefield, he could learn something from this special animal.

Sergeant Grossi smuggled the dog that he named Fred out of Afghanistan. The duo is now traveling the globe and sharing their story. Saunders Middle School was one of their recent stops. Staff and students filled the school’s gym to hear the inspiring stories, messages and memories, from Craig and Fred.



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