GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — Actions speak louder than words. This isn’t just true for adults. Pre-teens are included.
Jillian Page is a physical education teacher who holds a weekly "Mindful Monday" Zoom meeting with her colleagues and students.
Page teaches in physical education department with two other teachers and a student teacher at Jordan Intermediate School. When the district closed in-person classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Page, Megan Clark, Dan Grudt and Jason Yoast came up with a plan to hold virtual P.E. classes together, like how they’ve always worked together on campus.
The four teachers are continuing a program they created in the fall which focuses on their students’ mental fitness on top of physical fitness. They call it Mindful Monday.
“The whole department just felt like it was necessary to continue to offer just a time together to stay connected and just to let the kids just breathe,” said Page.
The kids don’t earn credit when they participate in Mindful Monday. It’s something extra their teachers created to give students a safe place to talk about their feelings and learn how to cope with stressful situations through yoga and breathing exercises. Still, about 70 to 100 kids like Crisol Gonzalez show up every week.
Crisol, a seventh-grader, is open about having anxiety around things that are out of her control.
“I fear coronavirus getting to me, how many people have died and it makes me really scared. I get a lot of anxiety and it just makes me bite my nails,” said Crisol.
The student says her teachers taught her that even though she can’t control the outbreak, she can cope with her feelings. The teachers wanted to send the students messages to thank them for sticking by through the glitches and all.
“We expected the numbers to go from 90 whatever it was down to 20 like that. It didn’t happen. They stayed there. So that was it for me,” said Dan Grudt, who has been teaching at Jordan for the last 19 years.
“I would just hope they would remember the most that we were there and we were still connected during this time when we can’t be with them physically and they just feel supported,” says Page, who has taught in the Garden Grove Unified School District for the past 13 years.
“I just want them to take away that they are loved tremendously by our staff and by our program and that they matter,” said Clark, who has been teaching at Jordan for the last 19 years.
“To see the amount of participation we still get when these students are doing it just freely just really shows the impact it’s having and it’s rewarding feeling,” said Jason Yoast, a student teacher at Jordan.
It’s not enough for Page, Clark, Grudge and Yoast to tell their seventh and eighth graders that they care about them. What really matters is what they’ve been doing, proving to their students that they’re there for them through their actions during this time apart.