North Liberty school says new tool this year will help address social-emotional learning

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 6:38 PM CDT
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NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa (KCRG) - A North Liberty School is taking a new approach to tackling social-emotional learning as the school year gets underway.

9-year-old Brooke Cavanh is a fan of Christine Grant Elementary School’s new movement and sensory path. So are parents like Amy Schultz, after a trying past school year.

“I’m definitely a little nervous to be going back full time,” Schultz said.

Schultz has two kids at the school.

“We were fully online last year, which was definitely its own barrel of monkeys, but now we’re incredibly excited to be back,” Schultz said.

She said a focus on social-emotional learning will be key to making sure students succeed in the new school year that starts Monday.

“I think that the best way for us to go about doing it or handling it is by tackling these emotions head-on, and not trying to brush them under the rug,” Schultz said.

The path is designed to navigate students’ cognitive skills while managing emotions and stress. Schultz was part of a group of parents who helped create it, with money from a grant.

“We talked about what elements and what types of motions would be best. We were able to come up together as a team with what we thought would most benefit the kids,” Schultz said.

Ken Turnis, the school’s principal, said the addition is connected to their core curriculum.

“A lot of what we wanted to do is have those times during the day when students are able to come out and access the path. We have timers as well,” Turnis said.

Turnis said it’s just one part of how they are trying to tackle social-emotional learning.

“It’s similar to calming zones and chill zones that we’re incorporating into our classrooms as well,” Turnis said.

Schultz said it will be a great addition, as students adjust to the new year.

“It’s OK to take small breaks for your mental health. This is as equally important as what you were learning in your classroom,” Schultz said.

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