HAMILTON, Ohio — Fairwood Elementary's new MindPeace room is helping students get control of their emotions before situations escalate. The room features the sounds of a rainforest, dim lighting and comfy chairs — quite a change from the principal's office.
"Kids will usually hold something," said Fairwood Elementary principal Matthew Crapo. "So they can hold the breathing ball. Work on their breathing. Breathing in and out."
The room opened two months ago. When teachers notice students becoming emotional or disruptive, the students can be sent to the MindPeace room before they get into a fight or lose control of their emotions.
“Discipline or consequences are reactionary," Crapo said. "So a child gets in a fistfight, our response is an out-of-school suspension. That’s reactionary. This room is 100% proactive.”
Students are walked through specific activities designed to help them recognize, understand and control their emotions by trained staff members.
"It's not just a room filled with stuff," Crapo said. "Everyone that goes there has been trained. The adults and the students."
The students' emotions and activities in the room are tracked, and that data is collected to prove the level of the room's effectiveness.
"This really isn't a break from class, because it's all data-tracked," Crapo said. "We know how long they're in there. We know what they're doing in there. We know what the emotion is when they walk in, and we know what the emotion is when they leave."
Crapo said disciplinary referrals and suspensions have dropped since the school opened the MindPeace room.
In the 2017-18 year, the school saw 162 suspension days in the first semester alone.
In 2018-19, that dropped to 140 days for the entire year.
The amount of collective referred time, which is 15 minutes of time out of classroom fell from 1,123 (42.5 days of school) in 2017-18 to 482 (19 days of school) in 2019-20.
"It gets the kids' mind off of whatever they're here for," Crapo said. "They're now concentrating on the movement."
The data collected in the room is tracked by a local company.