There’s much more to Penn State Behrend’s faculty and staff members than what you see on campus. In this occasional series, we’ll take a look at some of the interesting, unconventional, and inspiring things that members of our Behrend community do in their free time.
Name: Dr. Mary Beth Pinto
Day job: Professor of marketing, Sam and Irene Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend
Personal passion: Pet therapy
One morning a week, Pinto and her dog Jessie, a certified therapy dog, visit physically and mentally challenged students at the Elizabeth Lee Black School at the Barber National Institute in Erie.
The students in the classrooms that Pinto and Jessie visit have a range of physical and mental challenges, but many are diagnosed with Austism Spectrum Disorder.
Pinto said Jessie is used to reinforce, teach, or reward positive behaviors – for instance, making eye contact, waiting patiently for their turn, or using a language card to point to the activity they’d like to do with Jessie.
“Children on the autism spectrum often don’t like traditional means of reward—a hug, touch, or personal attention—but they love to throw the ball for Jessie or take her for a walk around the classroom,” Pinto said.