There’s a special place outside of the regular classrooms at Lakeview Elementary School now.
It’s shaped like a regular classroom, but what takes place behind the door is magical for all of the students who need a moment; a space to allow for calming activity, a place for perhaps outside resources or therapies.
It’s called an “Interactive Room” and opened about two months ago.
“It’s a relaxed setting,” said Kori Medd, who is in administrative and curriculum support at the school. “The uses of this room are endless, depending on the current needs of our students and staff.”
Recently the room was a cheerful and peaceful respite for students who need the get-away (always with a faculty or staff member along).
Lakeview Principal Tracey Burge said it’s been a dream of hers to have such a space, whether it be for five minutes or 30 minutes, for her students to calm and refocus to re-enter the regular classroom incentivized.
“I’ve always wanted something like this and Kori had a vision and came to me as well,” she said.
There was an under-utilized room in the school. At first, it was visualized as a casual reading room. But, with Burge’s desire for a sensory room, Medd’s vision to make it happen and a talented member of Cross Point Church, the room was conceptualized very quickly to provide a therapeutic space.
“Sensory rooms help children with, or without, special needs to calm and focus themselves so they can be better prepared for learning and interacting with others,” Medd said.
With assistance from the Mt. Juliet Kiwanis Club, the room was created in just a couple of months.
“Special needs children are close to my heart,” said Cross Point Church member Kelsey Gothard, who created a bucket list of items for the room. “I have a special needs sister, so I’ve lived in that world all my life. My background is also in child development. I’ve worked in many inclusion and sensory rooms.”
Today, the room houses a calming area with lighted bubble tubes with animated fish, a tactical sensory area, vibrating seats that spin, a teepee and drawers full of sensory stimulators to engage students who just need a little time out (the good kind).
“The interactive room is a place for students to go in, explore and engage,” Medd said. “The items within will hopefully give students who are distressed or overstimulated a place to calm down, to be able to come in and sit in the chairs or walk on the liquid floor tiles, listen to the sounds, create on our Lego wall, or see the lights.”
There is a sound machine that plays ocean music and even a Blue Tooth capability. There’s an entire wall with chalkboard paint for the students. One day recently there were pictures and even math equations on the chalkboard.
Cross Point Church purchased all the furniture and sensory items in the room. It also coordinated a group of volunteers to donate their time on a Saturday to assemble all the items.
Using its Local Good program. Cross Point donated about $2,000 toward the room and Courtney’s Corner (Gothard’s nonprofit) about $500.
The wall colors are white and blue for a calming effect. Lakeview parents Ashley Westbrooks and Erin Moyer spent four days painting Dr. Seuss-themed murals on the wall.
And the true test to this caring effort is how the students respond.
“Already about 25 students have utilized this room,” Burge said with a big smile. “This year, more than others, I notice the emotional needs of our students seem higher than normal. We need to be equipped at our school to step up with the level of support and nurturing.”
Other Wilson County Schools which have sensory rooms for students:
- Mt. Juliet High School
- Mt. Juliet Middle School
- Watertown Elementary (Pre-K)
- West Elementary