Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
Expanding and contracting was the theme for the sixth session of the Mindfulness Club Feb. 27 at Eisenhower Elementary School.
“It is about how (expanding and contracting) feels somatically and how that relates to the way we think, the way we meditate,” said Jordan Martin, Eisenhower TEAMS (technology, engineering, art, mathematics and science) teacher and club sponsor. “I usually try to integrate school if I can, but smuggle it in. I try to be clever about it.”
Since Feb. 4, more than 20 Eisenhower fourth-grade students have been meeting for two half-hour sessions per week to learn about mindfulness through discussion, yoga, meditation and journaling.
“I started to think about different ideas for clubs. I was looking into what they had in the other schools, and it didn’t seem to me that there were any clubs that targeted the social-emotional learning,” Martin said. “I read through the social-emotional standards and started to dream up how to encapsulate all of it. I felt like mindfulness does a nice job of that.”
Martin presented the idea to Cindy Wepking, Eisenhower principal, who presented the idea to the school board at the Dec. 17, 2019, school board meeting at the board office.
“Mr. Martin and I are very appreciative that the (school board) saw the value of a Mindfulness Club,” Wepking said. “We are very proud of our Leader in Me program; however, we believe students will benefit from learning strategies to help them work through different situations without being reactive.
“With so much information being introduced to their brains and fast-moving information from technology, the club will teach students how to quiet their minds,” she said.
Martin said his interest in the subject came from his wife, who is a Thai massage therapist and healer.
“That sparked my interest as well as the desire to push my teaching further, and this is where I ended up,” Martin said. “I tell the kids, ‘I’m in the club with you. I’m learning with you.’ I’m not an expert in the field at all.
“I reworked the mission statement over the course of developing it to more just being about exploring strategies that might have an experience in mindfulness in an enduring way,” he said. “The vision went from me guaranteeing results to accepting that I’m learning along with them, and it became more of a sandbox for mindfulness.”
Ariel Acred, Eisenhower fourth-grader, said the club has helped her in school.
“We’ve done guided meditations and we’ve done meditations on our own, and sometimes during school when I’m stressing on a test, I can just think of some of the stuff we’ve learned here and just slow down for a second and think and try to catch my breath,” Acred said. “(Martin) always says the focus of it is to focus on the present moment and not be thinking about the future and just think about what is happening right now and enjoy it while you can.”
Noah Jeffers, Eisenhower fourth-grader, said the meditations are his favorite part of the club.
“It is fun just enjoying the present moment and all the guided meditations we do,” Jeffers said. “It just makes you feel calm.”