Knox Co. school's 'mindfulness room' ditches detention for reflection

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KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Caitlin Hatfield decided she wanted to put a different type of practice into place in her classroom at Belle Morris Elementary School. She began using meditation to calm down her third graders after recess.

"I feel like it gets them to focus and learn better," Hatfield said.

Hatfield said she wants the whole school to experience this practice, so she applied for a grant from the Great Schools Partnership to be their next "TeacherPreneur."

On Friday, Hatfield saw her dreams realized when the non-profit awarded her the money.

"We believe teachers are the experts on what is needed in the classroom, and this is something we like to help with. We help fund great ideas the teachers have," said Jonathan Scoonover with the Great Schools Partnership.

Hatfield said she envisions turning a room into a stress free environment with soft lights, a waterfall, meditation cushions, relaxing music and a yoga instructor. Her plans featured a place where students can go in the morning, or during school, when they need to get centered.

"This is something I've wanted to do and [school principal] Ms. Hursey has wanted to do. So we're really excited to get to more kids than just the classroom level," Hatfield said.

The Belle Morris Elementary School principal said she supports the idea completely.

"With something like this, they can go in and let their feelings loose. They can also listen to music, then have someone to talk to afterwards, Principal Terry Lynn Hursey said.

Sixteen total teachers at different schools were awarded money for unique projects through the grant. The program awarded more than $110,000 in TeacherPreneur grants.

2017 is the fourth year that the Great Schools Partnership has worked with the Knox County Schools' Office of Innovation to offer teachers funding to pursue their creative ideas in the classroom.

"We have some of the most creative, educational leaders in the nation working right here in Knox County, so choosing our winners is never an easy task," Buzz Thomas, president of the Great Schools Partnership, said. "Through this grant program, we're able to help teachers turn their ideas for improving instruction into reality inside their classrooms."

For more information on the TeacherPreneur Grant, and to find out how teachers in your area can apply, visit the Great Schools Partnership website.