Two District 64 teachers became authors when their paper on a new Lincoln Middle School program was published on the Association of Illinois Middle-Grade Schools website.
Joanne Bruton and Melissa Walters are part of a guidance team at Lincoln that developed a Mindfulness and Coping (MAC) class to provide interventions for students who were experiencing severe anxiety and depression as well as those struggling with consistent attendance. It’s goal was to help specific students and bring a greater sense of calm to the school community.
The guidance team wrote a grant proposal for the class and it was funded by District 64’s Elementary Learning Foundation (ELF).
The class opened at the start of the 2020-21 school year and has consistently had seven to 12 participants in the class. The class meets daily during the first period of each day to offer a calm and gentle start to the school day and to provide motivation to come into the building each morning. Additionally, this brings students from different grade levels the opportunity to learn together and develop supportive relationships with each other.
“I feel that we have hit our stride and are really helping our kids build relationships with multiple staff members,” said Walters, who has taught middle school language arts, math and intervention classes for 22 years. “Despite the kids rotating in and out of the class, we are still maintaining a community feeling and comfort level.”
The goal for the participants of the MAC class is to have a better understanding of the curriculum, have developed strategies and an individualized coping plan to help them manage their stress. Feelings check-ins are showing that the participants are experiencing more emotional regulation. The team sees a long road ahead but said they have built a great foundation for students to move through their struggles. Ultimately, the data collected by the instructors and seeing consistently better attendance rates, shows the objective of the class is being achieved.
“This class would not have taken off without the help of (Principal) David Szwed, (Assistant Principal) Tim Gleason and (Special Education Coordinator) Kristyn Bair,” said Bruton, who has 11 years of teaching experience. “It is so encouraging to see the social emotional needs of our students taken so seriously.”
Read the fully published article on AIMSnetwork.org.