November 26, 2018

Students at Middleburg Montessori School recently said farewell to yellow lab Turner IV, who was being raised by teacher Cassella Slater for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Turner had a unique opportunity at Middleburg Montessori School during the 19 months he was with Cassella.

Diego, 11, and Owen, 6, say goodbye to Turner on his last day at MMS.

He was able to experience children of all ages in his daily life at school – from infants to adolescents – and learn how to interact with them in a positive way. Not only did Turner gain an invaluable experience, but the students of Middleburg Montessori did as well. They were able to learn about animal behavior, training skills, and the role of service dogs for people with disabilities. They also forged strong friendships with him, which provided inspiration for story writing and artwork. His last day at the school was full of hugs and homemade treats from the students.Said Cassella Slater, teacher and Turner’s trainer, “Most importantly, throughout Turner’s time at Middleburg Montessori School, the children gained an understanding of the organization (CCI) and what we hope his job will be – serving others. It is our hope that these children will embark into the world with this understanding and be motivated to serve and make the world a better place – Turner made this understanding tangible and left a lasting impression of service on us all.” He certainly made an impression on Upper School student Ishan, age 11, who wrote the following letter to mark Turner’s departure:

Dear Turner,
You are probably the best Yellow Labrador anybody could possibly have. Though you belong to the Canine Companions Organization and will soon have to go for advanced training, you will always be remembered by us as one of the greatest dogs to ever have lived. Remember your eyes of gentleness, your mind of greatness, and your heart of pureness; they will give you a long and prosperous life helping and bettering the lives of many in need. We hope you pass advanced training and realize your ultimate potential.

To all the parents, we hope you are happy for Turner. To Turner, if you truly try hard you will make us,
your far away family, proud of their very own Turner.

Ishan R. and The Middleburg Montessori School

Ishan reads his letter to Turner.

About Canine Companions for Independence
Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that provides highly trained assistance dogs, free of charge, for people with disabilities. Learn more at

About Middleburg Montessori School
Middleburg Montessori is an AMI recognized and VAIS accredited non-profit Montessori school for
children from birth through 15 years of age. They have been fostering the creation of fully capable individuals with children from Fauquier, Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick Counties for 38 years. Learn more at