CHATHAM, NJ - Julie Patterson has added her own three "Rs" to the education of Chatham Middle School students.
In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, Patterson has introduced "Refocus, Relax and Reflect" (see video) with the recent opening of her brainstorm "Just a Little Breathing Room."
Technically, it isn't a room, but a partitioned area in the second floor hallway of the Chatham Middle School, where students can take a break to reduce anxiety.
"This is the first that I'm aware of in Morris County.," Sandra A. Gogerty, Morris County Supervisor of Child Study for the State Department of Education, said. "Julie (Patterson) is gong to present this idea at a conference to the rest of Morris County to show what she's done here."
With the goal of adding to the general health and well-being of CMS students, those feeling stressed or anxious can seek out a counselor for permission to get "A Little Breathing Room."
The area was set up for a six-week trial at the end of the school year last spring and CMS Principal Jill Gihorski said (see video below) it was well-received by the students. The area is supervised and students are signed in and out.
"The big concern is that I didn't want it to be a place where kids would go to just get out of class," Gihorski said.
There are cushions to sit on, a table with relaxing activities such as sand sculpting and yoga mat with instructions. The Chatham Education Foundation and the Municipal Alliance Committee of the Chathams put up the money to fund the "Just a Little Breathing Room."
CMS Principal Jill Gihorski talks about the "Just a Little Breathing Room" now open at the Chatham Middle School