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Étude Elementary Blog

November 6, 2020
by: Janet Weyandt

Mindfulness Builds Resilience at Étude Elementary

After lunch at Étude Elementary School, the students come back into the building, pick their favorite spot to sit or lie down and then spend a few minutes breathing, thinking and paying attention to how they feel. 

It’s a mindfulness practice that has evolved at Étude over the last several years with teacher Rachel Pekarek is leading the way. 

Étude was introduced to mindfulness as a regular practice during a visit from Mental Health America in Sheboygan County years ago. 

“After that, I took a summer class with MHA and we decided to incorporate it into the school day,” Pekarek said. “There is a lot of research showing the positive effects mindfulness can have on people, especially on children who are living in a world full of distractions.”

Étude’s mindfulness practice is based on a program in California called Mindful Schools, which seeks to “empower educators to spark change from the inside out by cultivating awareness, resilience, and compassionate action.” 

Mindfulness is focused attention without judgment. It allows students to focus on the present moment and recognize and name how they are feeling, leading to self-awareness and calm. These are important coping strategies in dealing with negative influences such as trauma, anxiety and stress. 

It’s especially important for students: According to Mindful Schools, almost half the children in the U.S. have experienced at least one serious childhood trauma and nearly a third of adolescents will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder by age 18. 

Teachers suffer from stress and burnout, too – possibly this year more than ever before – and need a strategy to deal with their own stressors and their students’ concerns. 

At Étude, that strategy is mindfulness. 

Here’s an example: Teachers noticed that when students came back into their classrooms after lunch, they had a hard time settling down for an afternoon of learning. They were still energized from physical play or, sometimes, dealing with some conflict that happened on the playground. 

The result is calmer, more resilient kids who know how to take stock of their feelings and express them in a healthy way. Research shows that mindfulness cultivates skills to manage stress and to build attention, focus and resilience.

Mindfulness exercises at Étude happen at other times, too. For instance, at the beginning of the day each classroom has a “morning meeting” when students can say what’s on their minds. At the end of the day, students write down or say something they are grateful for. 

“Gratitudes are also really important in mindfulness,” Pekarek said. “We need to focus on the positive things.”

Pekarek’s certification, which she expects to achieve next year, will enable her to teach the Mindful Schools curriculum in school or in the community. Her mindfulness education includes taking multiple classes (all done virtually now) and meet up with teachers from around the world with the same goals. 

She is also required to have her own mindfulness practice, which incorporates meditation and other activities. 

Pekarek said pursuing continued education in mindfulness is important because she wants to share what she knows. 

“My three main goals of mindfulness are to help myself, my students and eventually my community,” she said. “It also gives me access to live seminars given by the teachers at Mindful Schools and it also gives me a community of teachers to go to when I have questions or ideas. I want to pass on the tools that I have learned to kids so they can use them in their own lives.”

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May 30, 2020
by: Janet Weyandt

Wilderness Wednesday takes learning into the great outdoors

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In the beginning, Wilderness Wednesday at Etude was simply a way for teacher Ali McKeone to get herself and her first graders outside and enjoy a little fresh air.

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April 22, 2020
by: Janet Weyandt

Teachers bring new ‘Mindset’ to math class after workshop

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If there’s one thing that’s become more important than ever in education over the last month, it’s flexibility. Teachers have initiated online learning on the fly, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and students and parents have risen to the challenge.

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September 3, 2019
by: Ted Hamm

First Day of School

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IMG 2332 2 This is my view of the first day of school. Quiet hallways, empty classrooms; not a teacher or student in sight. But, wait! It is the first day of school! The first day and two weeks are an important part of Étude. We use it to intentionally establish our community and culture for the school year. Today is all about culture, building a safe culture.

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March 9, 2019
by: Ted Hamm

Sheboygan Makerspace

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Image result for city of sheboygan

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September 11, 2018
by: Ted Hamm

National Arts Education Week: A Look at Dance

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Our school is fortunate to be one of the only schools in the area that offers dance as a content area taught during the normal school day. We teach dance Kindergarten through grade 12 and use dance/movement as an art form that used to communicate ideas, as well as, a tool for calming students through our yoga and Movement and Learning work. As people become more sedentary in general, it is important that we find ways throughout a students’ school career to remind them of the powerful impact of movement.

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September 10, 2018
by: Ted Hamm

National Arts in Education Week: The Arts at Étude

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As I write this blog, I am surrounded by the sounds of students creating music, the sight of students creating their own dances, and drama students working through their own scripts and improv pieces. At first look, it is a bit chaotic, but after further observation, it is productive chaos. Each student is engaged in doing something; not tacitly learning, but involved in thoughtful dialogue with other students and teachers. The arts inherently do this. The arts engage a child in a holistic approach to learning unlike other subjects. This is why the arts are core to what we do at the schools of the Étude Group. As we kick off National Arts Education Week[https://www.americansforthearts.org/sites/default/files/images/2015/by_program/networks-and-councils/arts_education_network/BILLS-111hconres275enr.pdf] I want to use this week to share with you the transformative impact the arts have played within our schools.

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August 1, 2018
by: Ted Hamm, Director

Revised Daily Schedule at Étude Middle & High School

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Dear Étude Middle and High School Families:

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June 21, 2018
by: Ted Hamm

Student Engagement & Academic Growth at Étude Elementary

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One cardinal rule we live by in the schools of the Étude Group is Engagement Over Compliance. Engagement a result of our investment in creating inclusive school culture, creating relevant curriculum, and building solid relationships with kids. Compliance, on the other hand, requires kids to follow the rules of others without question or voice. We strive for engagement, and where some compliance is required for schools to function properly, our students participate in developing the rules.

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March 20, 2018
by: Susan Griffiths

ReBlog:Why Kids Need to Move, Touch, and Experience to Learn

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