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Portage, WI: School sensory room, "calming corners" have "positive results"

Sept 10, 2018, Portage (WI) Daily Register: Music, mindfulness among changes set by new principal in Portage Music played at John Muir Elementary School when Principal Jen Garrigan greeted students in the hallways Monday morning…. This school year Garrigan’s students will hear live music every Monday, one of several new features at John Muir. “It gives them a nice and calming start to their week,” she said of the practice. Garrigan – who last week started her first year as the school’s principal – is also bringing retired educators into the school building every Tuesday to work with fifth-graders on vocabulary and reading. She’s starting Academic Students of the Week, too, and expanding the Mindfulness Spaces and Calming Corners that she started as the school’s dean of students last year. … “We look at every student individually and we celebrate their differences,” she said of the approach at John Muir. Mindfulness plays a big role in what leaders emphasize at John Muir, said Criss Shaben, the new dean of students. She recently took charge of the Sensory Room that Garrigan started last year, turning it into an “enchanted forest.”… “I have a lead on a loom,” Shaben said of her idea to eventually allow students who visit the sensory room to weave their thoughts and ideas into one big creative display. Shaben said she sees the positive results of the sensory room frequently. It’s more than a tool to combat anxiety, Shaben said, “It gives them a chance to be a kid again.”…


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