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A New Way To Take A Break

Staff in a recharge room

Middle School instructional aide Heather Specht Klahn and teacher Vanessa Bramstedt relax in the recharge room with a special visit from Chip the Therapy Dog

A New Way To Take A Break

The Sheboygan Falls School District has set up a new way for teachers to take a break and as a way to cope with the stress of the new challenges of COVID-19 this school year. 

Inspired by similar works spaces at Apple and Google, the district has created “re-charge rooms” at each of its school buildings, where teachers and other staff members can stop in for a moment or two to take a breath, grab a cup of coffee or tea or just refresh and refocus before returning to the classroom.

The rooms were added because the district realized that the unique challenges of the pandemic meant that more traditional methods of stress relief might not be working as well this year, according to Director of Student Services Emilie Dahm. 

Elementary recharge room
Elementary recharge room

“We have made a significant effort to address the increased needs for educator self-care by putting into place consistent interventions that can help meet these needs,” Dahm said. “It is our goal that educators use the re-charge rooms as a tool to help maintain social-emotional wellness, which ideally helps them to feel engaged and successful in their everyday work.”

Meeting the social-emotional needs of students and staff has been a priority for the district for the past two to three years. In order for teachers to attend to the mental and emotional well being of their students, they need to also take time for themselves, explained Amanda Pound, principal of Sheboygan Falls Middle School.

“The goal for our recharge space at SFMS is for staff to be able to take a moment to reset their minds, bodies, and hearts,” Pound said.  “By taking care of ‘me’, then as educators, we will be able to provide all the energy needed to take care of our students academically, socially, and emotionally.”

Middle School Chorus Teacher and Instructional Coach Becky Charbonneau is grateful for the rooms.

“Staff have found that it is a place where they can stop to grab a cup of coffee and take a few deep breaths before they head back to their classroom,” Charbonneau said. “It is another way that we are acknowledging the social-emotional needs of our staff and allowing them the space to recharge when they need to.”

High School instructional aide Sheera Seegert takes a break in the massaging chair
High School instructional aide Sheera Schomberg takes a break in the massaging chair

The room design varies by building. At the high school, teachers are able to get a cup of coffee or tea and take a few minutes sitting in a heated massage chair, said Principal Kevin Krutzik.

At the elementary school, the re-charge room has puzzles, adult coloring books and a place where staff can write positive notes for other staff members.

“Staff use the re-charge room for peaceful moments,” said Associate Principal Shelley Hyde. “They have expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to find calm during the busy school day and a COVID year.”

Elementary recharge room
Elementary recharge room

Principal Lynn Bub noted that a lot of creativity had gone into designing the space.

“There is research to suggest that a brief sensory break can help disrupt stress, so we have included simple items such as aromatherapy and changing nature visuals projected onto the wall,” Bub said. 

Although the rooms are intended for teachers, other staff members also appreciate the chance to use them.

“My goal is to use the re-charge room on a regular basis to model for other staff how helpful and beneficial it can be to take a few minutes of self-care and de-stress time for ourselves,” said School Counselor Britne Lorge. “I have already used the re-charge room a few times and have noticed the benefits of just a few minutes to breathe and pause during my work day.”

Because everyone needs a break these days. 


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