Students at Wayside Elementary School in Potomac received a special guest earlier this month, when a best-selling author, decorated military officer and Churchill High School alum visited to teach students a lesson in tolerance.
U.S. Army Captain Luis Montalván was wounded during his two tours in Iraq and, after attempting to deal with the mental and emotional trauma of the war alone, became the first military service member to be awarded a companion service dog.
Montalván wrote a New York times bestseller about his experiences with and without his dog, named Tuesday, and visited Wayside on Wednesday, Oct. 10, to share that story with students as part of the school’s second annual special needs awareness week.
"The kids loved Tuesday – they thought Tuesday was the coolest dog," said Lisa Guiterman, a Wayside mom. "The kids particularly like when Capt. M. had Tuesday demonstrate skills like picking up his cane or his water bottle – giving him a hug – talking about how Tuesday wakes him up from nightmares, how Tuesday can tell when he is stressed, makes sure he takes his meds, etc."
The awareness week, known as the Special Needs Awareness Program, is designed to teach kids empathy and sensitivity to others. The Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations recognized Wayside last year for its work with the program.