Suspensions down at North Middle School with mindfulness pilot program

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Mindfulness, it's a therapeutic technique used in yoga, meditation, and now schools, which is why North Middle School is piloting a new program.

Eagle's Nest at North Middle School.

It's the first program of its kind in the district.

"Students are not in a box anymore, we have to be outside of that box and working with them and meeting them where they are, and they're not always in the same place," said Abbie Waitman, social worker for North Middle School.

This disciplinary program is known as the Eagle's Nest, a regulation room students are sent to for up to five days.

It's a place for students to reflect with a social worker after behavioral issues in the classroom.

"By practicing mindfulness and being aware of that creates that awareness with your mind and your body and being able to respond instead of react in different situations," Waitman said.

Responding not reacting, Waitman said this program focuses on the whole child.

"What we have found, essentially is that majority of our kids are in the classroom more, our suspensions are down," said Jackie Talley, principal of North Middle School.

Not only is the Eagle's Nest keeping students in school but Talley said it's also improving their relationship with teachers.

"Recreating an environment that was not so consequential for our students but creating an environment that we could focus on improving student behavior in the classrooms, in the hallways, and something that can be generalized out into the community," Talley said.

Beyond just their school work, students focus on breathing and calming techniques to use in and outside the classroom.