Local school district offering ‘safe spaces’ for students and teachers to ‘feel better’

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SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) — This isn’t your typical classroom.

‘They have books in there, they can build with the mapping tiles,’ says Josiah Morgan, 8, describing his classroom’s so-called ‘safe space’ inside Rowland Primary School in South Euclid.

Using a comfortable chair, mat, or pillows is where students with discipline issues or mental breakdowns can take a moment to self-regulate.

School counselor Lisa Artino says, “It’s not a break and it’s not just a quiet corner where you go. There is a process of self-regulation where students move from the lower centers of their brain to the higher centers of the brain where optimal problem solving and learning can occur.

It’s all part of a program called ‘Conscious Discipline’, unveiled inside schools in the town of South Euclid Lyndhurst four years ago.

Colorful and posted charts inside classrooms and hallways, allowing students to self-diagnose any emotions they may be feeling, determining if a break in a safe space is needed.

And safe spaces aren’t just for students. This is a calming zone for teachers, where they can get a quick massage, listen to music, anything that can help them decompress before returning to class.

The safe spaces program has expanded, now to all elementary, middle and high school buildings.

Deputy Director Sylvia Marshall is already noticing major changes.

“You don’t want to go to the principal’s office, but honestly, I don’t deal with a lot of behavior. I don’t face a lot of negative things because what our teachers do in the classroom, with their safe spaces, really helps students stay in class,” Marshall said.

Josiah, whose favorite subject is maths, says he has yet to use the safe space inside Ms Davidson’s classroom, but says the changes in behavior of his classmates are evident.

“…they’re ready to learn, they’re ready to do their reading and their math, and they feel better,” he says.

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