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OKLAHOMA CITY – It’s a basic reality for many teachers and students. Traditionally, when a student is disruptive in class, they’re sent to the principal’s office and some form of discipline will follow.

Well, this year, at Edgemere Elementary, the teachers and students will be trying out an alternative to the old forms of discipline.

Peace. It’s not something you find often at an elementary school – but Joanna Eldridge said, at times, it’s exactly what her students need.

“Meditation class was a response to a need to address mental illness in young children,” she said.

Eldridge is a special education teacher at Edgemere Elementary. She said, sometimes, students act out or struggle in school because they don’t know how to handle the cards they are dealt.

“I realize that we, as the teachers, don’t do enough to address those needs and they’re basic needs,” she said. “If we cannot address those, how can we help students learn?”

So, Eldridge started teaching meditation class during the 2016-2017 school year. In the class, they worked on deescalating with their senses.

“I use music therapy, I use color therapy and, also, I will using aromatherapy in this room,” she said.

They also use movement.

“We do yoga,” she said. “We talk about coping skills, strategies we can use as a response in specific situations to basically help them avoid certain behaviors and just replace them.”

Over the year, Eldridge started to see improvement.

“Students being able to address their emotions, begin able to name them, being able to respond in a specific moment with a correct response,” she said.

Edgemere’s principal recognized the success, too.

Before Eldridge knew it – a grant was written for the project through ‘Partners in Action,’ an initiative that connects Oklahoma City schools with community partners interested in making an impact.

“It’s so hard to have any resources nowadays, so I never expected that would happen,” she said. “That was a total surprise.”

Now, with the room – a different approach available to any child who needs it.

“It’s not punishing students; it’s helping them to replace behaviors they don’t want to have as a response to certain situations,” Eldridge said.

Edgmere is OKCPS’ pilot community school.

Ten local businesses helped make itpossible:

  • Mercy Communities – PD&C
  • Manhattan Construction
  • REES Architecture & Design
  • Axiom Core Energy Services
  • Oklahoma Electrical Supply Company
  • Key Lighting
  • Green Country Interiors
  • Custom Flooring
  • FER Waste Services
  • Fabrics Unlimited