First Lady Justice announces two counties added to CIS program; three new schools to receive Friends With Paws therapy dogs


CHARLESTON, WV — First Lady Cathy Justice announced today that West Virginia’s Communities In Schools (CIS) program will be adding schools this month in two new counties and two participating counties across the state.
A total of 13 schools in Harrison, Kanawha, Mingo and Webster counties will be the newest additions to the education initiative.
“I’ve been in the schools forevermore, and I’m telling you, I’ve never seen a program that works any better,” Gov. Jim Justice said. “It is unbelievable.”
CIS aims to forge community partnerships and bring resources into schools to help remove barriers to student learning with a goal of keeping all students in school and ultimately graduating.
The new CIS counties/schools announced are as follows:

Harrison County
  • Nutter Fort Primary School
  • Nutter Fort Intermediate School
  • Norwood Elementary School
Webster County
  • Glade Elementary School
The new schools in already participating CIS counties are as follows:

Kanawha County
  • Edgewood Elementary School
  • Grandview Elementary School
  • Capital High School
Mingo County
  • Burch PK-8 School
  • Gilbert PK-8 School
  • Kermit PK-8 School
  • Williamson PK-8 School
  • Matewan PK-8 School
  • Mingo Central High School
The Governor and First Lady started their CIS statewide initiative in three counties in 2018. Including today’s newly announced additions, the program has now expanded to 38 counties, serving well over 91,000 students in 208 schools across the state.
First Lady Justice also announced that schools in Summers County, Kanawha County and Mercer County will be the first locations in 2023 to receive therapy dogs through the CIS Friends With Paws therapy dog program.
The first three schools receiving therapy dogs in 2023 are:
  • Hinton Area Elementary School, Summers County, will receive a male Cream Labradoodle.
  • Bridgeview Elementary School, Kanawha County, will receive a male Yellow Labrador.
  • Oakvale Elementary School, Mercer County, will receive a male Apricot and White Labradoodle.
“I’m so proud of this program and all it’s doing for CIS students,” First Lady Justice said. “I look forward to placing more therapy dogs in CIS schools this year. I know they will make such a difference at each of their schools.”

The Friends With Paws program places certified therapy dogs in several schools across the state, providing companionship and comfort for students in need of a boost. Since April 2022, nine Friends With Paws therapy dogs have been placed in CIS schools across the state.

Therapy dogs are placed in schools within CIS counties where students are disproportionately affected by poverty, substance misuse, or other at-risk situations, and are in the greatest need of a support animal. The dogs serve as a healthy and friendly outlet for these students to address trauma and other social-emotional issues.

More information about Friends With Paws can be found in Communities In Schools: Friends With Paws, a documentary produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Click HERE to view the documentary.

Contact Information

Jordan Damron,; CJ Harvey,


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