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Dean at Andrew J. Brown Academy Pampers Staff with Calming Corner

Imagine taking a moment for yourself in the middle of your workday. Just 10, maybe 15 minutes to stretch out, collect your thoughts, listen to some soothing music, and enjoy a serene environment.

It may sound a little far-fetched but it’s a reality for the staff at Andrew J. Brown Academy thanks to upper elementary dean Christianna Cummings.

teacher realaxing

Cummings could see how much stress COVID-19 has added to teachers at the school and wanted to do something about it. Her idea was to provide a little respite for them, a small getaway they could visit when times are tough.

“Teachers get very stressed out, and we all need a space we can go to take five minutes and calm down,” Cummings said. “So, when I saw student calming corners in a lot of our classrooms, I was like ‘why don’t teachers have that?’

Dean Cummings

With no teacher’s lounge in the building, Cummings created a plan to give the staff at A.J. Brown a space they could call their own: a Calming Corner.

Located in Cummings’ office, the corner includes a heated massaging chair, pillow and blanket, soft music, little twinkling lights, tissues, and a box filled with small gifts that staff members can take with them.

realxation space

“I’ve had teachers that have had a challenging day stop by,” Cummings said. “One teacher comes in on her lunch break. It’s not like an everyday thing, but people have a lot of stress in their lives and sometimes they just need to talk or deal with that, so they’ll just go to the Calming Corner.”

Cummings said she has taken some good-natured ribbing about the corner being in her office but admits she’s only used the space once since she created it at the start of the school year.

relaxations basket

“You see all these articles about teachers leaving the field and people giving extra time off for mental health days,” Cummings said. “I believe in being positive and saying daily affirmations all the time because the world’s a stressful place. You have to stay positive.”

Thanks to Christianna Cummings, the staff at Andrew J. Brown are feeling a bit more calm.

Andrew J. Brown Academy is part of NHA, a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. with 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.