PreK through 12th grade educators across EPS participated in a professional development opportunity to create calming corners in their classrooms. Participants learned about the purpose and goals of instituting Calming Corners as part of their classroom practice, developed best practices for effective implementation and utilization of Calming Corners; and practiced and reflected on strategies related to the use of Calming Corners with the expertise of Walker Therapeutic and Educational Programs. All participants received a grant-award of $750 to establish a Calming Corner in their classroom.
By the end of school year 2023, 113 classrooms will have instituted a calming corner in their classroom. In addition, 20 teachers attended a second round series of Calming Corners to deepen their practice and received a $500 grant-award to purchase additional supplies for their existing spaces.
What is a calming corner?
A calming corner is a designated space in a classroom with the sole intent of being a safe space for a student to go to when they feel their emotions are running too high and they need to regain their emotional and physical control. These spaces are equipped with comforting objects and soothing materials that can promote mindfulness, breathing, and reflection. A classroom calming corner allows students the opportunity to remain in the classroom while they are self regulating and transition back to their lesson without disruption and ensure that they feel they are a part of their classroom community.
Pictured above is a Calming Corner in Christine Horras'
classroom. Mrs. Horras is a 2nd grade educator at the
Madeline English School.
How are calming corners improving student outcomes in Everett Public Schools?
The successful implementation of Calming Corners has resulted in teachers reporting a better "ambience in the classroom," teachers have more instructional time with less disruptions, students are more productive and happier, and students are learning to self-regulate, thus developing more agency.
What teachers are saying:
Ms. Campbell is a high school educator at the Devens School
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Pictured above are some of the EPS staff members who participated in the Mental Health First Aid Training offered at Everett High School during the February 2022 vacation. The district graduated two cohorts totaling 34 employees who obtained a three-year certification to provide Mental Health First Aid to EPS students. When the district certifies 10 percent of its staff, the training can be extended to students between the ages of 16 and 18.
Mental Health First Aid is a nationally recognized certification program designed to train and certify non-mental health professionals with the concrete skills to recognize, respond, and refer people exhibiting mental health or substance-use difficulties to appropriate care.
The training stresses early detection and intervention by teaching participants about the signs and symptoms of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and addictions. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing has certified more than one million people through a network of 12,000 Mental Health First Aid instructors. EPS Manager of Social/Emotional Learning and Wellness Patrick Quigley is a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor and the driving force behind bringing this important training to our community of teachers and school support staff.
“It was great to see such a diverse cross-section of EPS personnel taking part in this training opportunity, including Principals, Administrative Assistants, Family Liaisons, and Success Coaches,” said Superintendent Tahiliani. “The Mental Health First Aid program is an important step in embedding proven and sustainable social and emotional wellness strategies into our curriculum and our daily operations.”