The lights dimmed, a soothing voice filled a Martin Luther King Elementary classroom last week. More than a dozen students sprawled out on a large rug, eyes closed, breaths measured.
“We are going to take a little journey to the land of mindfulness,” the voice said, easing out of speakers. “It’s a place inside of you, where you are safe and strong, a place that puts a smile on your face.”
A handful of teachers lined the perimeter of the rug, breathing and relaxing alongside the students in a “mindful moment,” a chance to calm and re-center themselves.
A few minutes later, those same students were racing up and down the hallways, ducking under a patchwork wall of streamers dubbed the “laser maze” and deciphering mixed-up words as they played the role of spies. It was another day at Schenectady’s new summer program for elementary students, a program that district officials hope to roll out to hundreds more students in the coming years.
“What’s a spy?” teacher Colleen Belcher asked the students.
“A spy is where you go to secret places and you get to save the world,” 7-year-old Lydell Jenkins said.
The day before they were ninjas. And they made a campfire.
For the past three weeks, more than 200 students have settled in at MLK for 10-hour days. Divided among 17 rooms – most with a dozen students or fewer – the students received daily math and literacy lessons coupled with other activities and projects and three meals a day. More than 600 students across the district are participating in what officials are calling a “pilot” that could grow into a much bigger…
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