These students deserve a medal. After a devastated teacher needed to have her Golden Retriever’s leg amputated, her former students created a prosthesis. Students at Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina, devised a custom prosthetic for Bentley using a 3-D printer.
Students at Providence Day School Designed and Created a Prosthesis for Dog Cancer Survivor
Ashley Liberto, a middle school math teacher, adopted her golden retriever when he was a puppy eight years ago. The two are incredibly bonded, as Liberto has no children and considers Bentley to fill that role. Bentley started limping a few months ago and was initially diagnosed with arthritis. However, later scans showed that he had a dangerous soft tissue sarcoma, a type of cancer.
“I don’t have kids; he’s my child. It was terrible. It was emotionally exhausting. I was crying every night,” Liberto told People.
Liberto needed to have her dog’s leg amputated but couldn’t afford a prosthetic leg.
“As soon as he came out to see me, he hobbled along, and he just adapted… He just has this will to live,” Liberto said.
Accepting that she couldn’t afford a prosthetic, Liberto asked some of her former students if they could help. Many had gone on to nearby Providence Day School, a college prep school. The school offers an introductory class that teaches computer-aided design and 3-D printing under teacher Todd Johnson.
“I thought it was a great opportunity for the students to see a real-world application for what they’re learning at school. I knew once the students wrapped their heads around it, they would come up with designs that are viable solutions,” Johnson said.
One of Liberto’s Former 6th-Grade Students Came up With the Final Design
Johnson divided his class into groups and had them each come up with a prosthetic leg design. The final design was chosen from a group led by one of Liberto’s former 6th-grade students, Brandon Hollis. Hollis’ team then worked with Bentley to create a harness and prosthetic leg.
“It fit way better than I could have hoped for. It still needs some slight tweaks, and then it should fit perfectly,” said Hollis.
The project is a perfect example of applied learning, which has gained popularity over recent years. It’s the concept of giving students a direct and real-life scenario to work with or towards. Applied learning makes education relevant, fun, and memorable. For Johnson’s students, this seemed to be exactly what happened when they made a prosthesis for a dog in need.
“It’s pretty cool,” said Reed Nobili, one of Hollis’ team members. “A lot of times, we do these kinds of projects and don’t get to think of it as doing much or helping someone, and then Bentley showed up, and it was like, we’re doing this to help someone and help such a sweet dog.”
Liberto and Bentley have much to celebrate. Her dog gets his prosthetic leg, and she gets to feel the rewards of good teaching as her students grow up.
“Oh my gosh, seeing what they came up with was so moving. I cried,” Liberto said. “Our kids are so smart, and the fact they can take what they’re learning in the classroom and see it in real-life scenarios — it’s really moving.”