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Vista Teacher’s Calming Influence Goes a Long Way Toward Students’ Development

Starting a school day with a serene setting is important to Lindsay Radlinski.
Each day, scholars at Vista Charter Academy are greeted with a smile and a personalized message on their desk from their third-grade teacher. Then, Radlinski and the students meditate for five minutes to help them focus, wash away whatever troubles they might have, or manage their emotions.
“I have had a lot of students with anger issues coming to school,” she said. “It kind of starts everyone off on an even playing field. Maybe they got upset at recess and they are having trouble calming down.”
Deep breathing exercises such as belly breathing (long, conscious breaths) and candle breathing (where students imagine blowing out the candles on a birthday cake) help provide the right frame of mind to learn. Radlinski said their favorite exercise is one in which they pretend they are laying on a warm beach.
 Teacher leading students in controlled breathing.

“It’s nice to bring that into the classroom. I tell them, you know, I do this, too,” she said. “If they see me have a big emotion in class, they see me practice that breathing. It's something you will use for the rest of your life.”
Radlinski also has students complete a daily check-in on a Google Form. What the students share is open-ended – it can be good news, how they are feeling, or anything else that’s on their mind. If a student says they are sad, angry or tired, Radlinski checks to see if there’s anything she can do to help. It might be simple but having a constant form of open communication helps the students begin each day as well as possible.
There’s a reason Radlinski’s rapport with her students is strong – she’s now in her third year teaching third grade after teaching first grade for four years, giving her a second go-round with some familiar faces. It has allowed her to see progress first-hand.
“It was just really beautiful for me to see the work I put in,” she said. “Just to see the growth in the student and the self-control that they were able to manifest within themselves. There are a few specific students that almost brings tears to my eyes to see how far they've come, especially having been their teacher twice. It's been really cool to see the growth because not a lot of teachers get to teach the same kids more than once.”

Teacher leading students in breathing exercises.

Radlinski’s calming effect extends to daily lessons, as she purchased a program through Teachers Pay Teachers, an online source for educational materials, to help students who were struggling with multiplication. It might be an exercise that lasts for only a few minutes per day, but it furthers their grasp of a skill they will need for the rest of their lives.
“She gives her all to her students, family, and friends. She has a work ethic like no other, expects nothing but the best from her students, and puts in countless hours to achieve her goals of herself and her classroom,” said Wayne Hill, upper elementary dean of instruction at Vista. “She does whatever is needed to help her students succeed. She has grown so much as a teacher and exudes confidence in her abilities. Her relationship with students is what drives her passion and gives positive results.”
Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Radlinski!
Vista Charter Academy is a free public charter school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. National Heritage Academies (NHA), a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. has over 95 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade. For more information, visit