Virginia Hamilton, President and Founder of the Board of Directors of Canine Commandos Inc.
Virginia founded Canine Commandos in 2003 to provide her gifted students a meaningful, memorable, and sustainable community service project using shelter dogs for which she has dedicated to finding them furever homes. Today, she uses her broad experience to promote the Canine Commandos and offer all students the opportunity to save lives.
Since the Canine Commandos inception, over 4000 students have trained 2500 dogs with a 69% adoption success rate in all three Brevard County shelters. Through social media, Virginia has been asked to speak on several radio shows, local news stories and featured in several publications. The Commandos have been nationally recognized by Good Morning America, Disney, Office Depot’s Teachers Change Lives, Eckerd Organization Hero of the Year and Virginia was just named the Humane Society of the U.S.’s National Humane Teacher of the Year, Silver Winner, Pet Age Icon Award and Academy of Prosocial Learning Teacher of the Year.
Virginia is all about the animals, any kind (won’t even eat, use, or wear them!). She feels that reaching our youngest citizens is the way to go about making changes on our planet. In fact, her mantra is C.H.E.C.K.: Compassion, Humane (her favorite word), Empathy, Caring and Kindness.
Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from University of Central Florida, 1991
Endorsed in Gifted and ESOL
Teaching 27 years.
Started Canine Commandos in 2003 with one class and now manages 26 classes.
Grant writing and fundraising experience.
Created and maintains Aim Humane, a project where students read to dogs then complete activities about the importance of pet responsibility.
Previous directors for Brevard ASAP (Aiding SpaceCoast Animals Project, Inc.) and B.A.R.C. (Brevardians Against Racing Canines).
Certified Humane Education Specialist with Humane Society of the U.S.
Advisory Board Member Humane Education Coalition (international alliance for collective global impact).
Member of APHE (Association of Professional Humane Educators).
Member of NAGC (National Association For Gifted Children).
Member of FLAG (Florida Association Of The Gifted).
National Association of Gifted Children Community Service Award 2019
Academy of Prosocial Learning Teacher of the Year 2019
Pet Age Icon Award 2018
Humane Society of the US, Humane Educator of the Year, Silver Winner 2016
Brighthouse Channel 13 Every Day Hero 2015 and 2016
Eckerd’s Children’s Hero of the Year; Talent Category 2015
ECET2 nominee for national conference in December 2015/Presenter for local chapter
Office Depot’s Teachers Change Lives 2014
Women in the Pet Industry Network Advocate Finalist 2013 and 2014
Education World’s Teacher of the Day 2014
Points of Light recipient 2014
Orange Appeal Magazine’s Teacher Makeover 2013
North Shore Animal League PSA Contest 2nd Place $750 2012
Good Morning America’s Get Away with GMA 2009
LifeStyle Homes Teacher Room Makeover 2009
Future Problem Solvers State Champions 2009
Disney’s All Stars Adventure Best School Community Service Project 2005
The Florida Council on Economics Education: Beads for Big Cats Rescue: Honorable Mention 2000
Odyssey of the Mind State Winner 2000
CNBC Stock Market Game 4th rank in nation 2000
Petco Foundation 2014, 2016, 2018; Iams 2010, 2011; Sue Bassett Foundation 2015; Brevard Schools Foundation 2003, 2008, 2015, 2016, 2018
Humane Education Coalition Podcast 2019
Pet Age Magazine 2018
What to Expect when Adopting a Dog by Diane Rose-Solomon 2016
Voices Carry for Animals Radio Guest 2016
Clear Channel Outdoors 7 digital boards 2015 and ongoing
Guest speaker on Judy Helm Wrights’ People Animal Connection Blog Talk Radio
January 6, 2015
The New Barker magazine 2015
Space Coast Daily 2015
WMEL Seeta and Friends 2015, 2018
Brevard Online 2015
Gifted Education News 2015
Examiner.com Lake County Animal Services and Canine Commando too.
By Stephen Dickstein 2014
Blog Talk Radio 2014
Points of Light 2014
Florida Today 2014
Education World 2014
WFIT Guest Speaker 2012
Change the World with Service Learning By Katy Farber 2011
The Complete Guide to Service Learning By Cathryn Berger Kaye 2010
A Kids’ Guide to Protecting & Caring for Animals, How to Take Action!
By Cathryn Berger Kaye 2008
K.I.N.D. magazine 2008
Youth Service America 2006
Disney Adventures All Stars’ Magazine 2005