Release, relax, refocus, fresh start, self care, take care of yourself, be present, breath; these are all mindfulness practices that Mrs. Nikki Reed, Chapin Street Principal, wanted her staff to experience as they welcomed 2017. Reed explained, “Each day the staff implements mindfulness practices with our students to help them improve their abilities to pay attention, to remain calm when they are upset, to make better decisions and to give them the tools and ability to manage stress. Today was a day to focus on our staff and remind them that they, too, need to take care of themselves- to be mindful. It is my hope that we will plan yearly self care days.”
Staff were offered the opportunity to enjoy a healthy salad for lunch, prepared by the Chapin Street cafeteria staff, and to snack on healthy treats, such as fruits, vegetables and hummus in the teacher’s lounge. Reed also transformed the school’s library into a calming haven complete with soft music, dimmed lights, aromatherapy, healthy refreshments and eight massage therapy students from Branford Hall Career Institute in Springfield to offer staff 10 minute chair massages. Reed explained that staff signed up for a massage during their prep or lunch period.
Christopher Cirillo, Massage Therapy Instructor, explained that Reed contacted him back in December to schedule the session. “The experience the students gain while volunteering their massage skills in public prepares them to to reach their future goals when they graduate from the program.”
“Students in the program are required to complete 60 clinical hours and volunteering to offer massages to schools and businesses is a great way for them to receive experience with the public, practice their skills and gain those important hours,” added Susan Kmon, Massage Therapy Instructor.
The reviews following the massage sessions were overwhelming positive. After exiting the library, paraprofessional, Susan Crevier, commented, “This was my very first massage, and I loved it! I can’t thank Nikki enough for arranging this. I appreciated it so much.”
“I enjoyed every minute of it,” commented Peggy Fillion, Assistant Cafeteria Manager. “It was amazing that Nikki did this for the entire staff.”
Lorie Medina, Lead Secretary, shared, “This was the best 10 minutes at work, ever! It has had such a positive effect on the staff. I feel extremely fortunate to work with an administrator who makes staff wellness a priority.”
“Nikki’s enthusiasm and love for her job shows in everything she does; today was just another example of that,” said Wendi Lawson, 3rd grade inclusion teacher. “She creates a welcoming atmosphere every day. The staff and students are so lucky to have her as our principal. She makes it much easier to come to school in what can be, at times, a very stressful job.”
As the school day came to an end, Judi Humphries, 3rd grade teacher, capsulized the feelings of many when she stated, “Hands down, this was one of the best days at school, ever!”