REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio - When kids head to school each day, most of them will be learning math, science, and grammar. But some children in Reynoldsburg City Schools are picking up other skills.
The Reynoldsburg City Schools is expanding a groundbreaking partnership with BalletMet to offer movement, yoga and mindfulness classes in K-12 classrooms. This expansion is part of the district’s five-year strategic plan that focuses on the student experience.
7th graders at Hannah Ashton Middle School are learning to slow down and focus. During school, they're taking a yoga class that's part of the partnership.
Nyomie Taliaferro and Ja'Myah Duke were skeptical at first about taking part. But now, it's something they look forward to, to ease their stress.
"When you're in yoga, you come here to be calm and settle down," Ja'Myah says.
"In yoga class, I learned to take a deep breath, count to five and I handle it in a calm way," Nyomie explained.
And it's not just yoga moves the kids are learning. With the BalletMet partnership, they're learning about mindfulness, meditation and of course, dance.
"The minute people hear Ballet Met is coming people start to freak out. 'I can't do ballet, ballet is for girls, not boys.' We get people moving in a way that's accessible," says Ambre Emory-Maier, Director of Education at BalletMet.
Those simple movements, whether it's ballet or yoga, have proven to help with self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
"If you're confident in what your body can do, your body feels good. You're in control of your body. There's a mind-body connection to that," Emory-Maier explains.
The students say they're seeing the results. For Nyomie, she credits yoga for improving in math.
"I wasn't able to focus during math there was too much going on. Because I have yoga before it, it helped me relaxed and focused and ready for math," she says.
And for Ja'Myah, she says it's this class that helps her deal with difficult situations.
"I was mad at lunch and we were doing poses and we were falling down. It makes you happier. It makes me happier," Ja'Myah explained.
In addition to focusing on the Student Experience, BalletMet is offering professional development to RCS teachers. They will learn mindfulness, self-care, how to best help students with social-emotional issues and meditation practices to help students self-regulate.
The Reynoldsburg district began this wellness initiative back in 2017.