Spotlight: Betsy Shandalov – Motor Skills and Mindfulness teacher Betsy Shandalov (Ms Betsy) is the Motor Skills and Mindfulness teacher for the Kindergarten and 1st Grade Classes at Crocker. Motor Skills and Mindfulness as well as many other programs only exist at Crocker because of your PTA donations. Please support Annual Giving to keep these programs running. Q: How many hours do you work at Crocker and how do you spend that time? Ms Betsy: I come to Crocker Thursdays from 8:30-2:30 pm. I set up movement stations for kids to have fun moving their bodies. The movement inspires their brain patterns to change and helps with focus in the classroom. They learn to regulate their energy from calm to energizing so that they can use that throughout the day for concentration. Through these movement patterns the kids learn to read and to write better, they have better attention and they release whatever tension that they have in their body so they can be happy and healthy kids. Q: What is your background in this role? Ms Betsy: I graduated from Boston University with a degree in Occupational Therapy and I have been an Occupational Therapist for 26 years. I have been an adult and kids yoga teacher for 10 years. I have worked at Crocker as the motor skills teacher for 7 years. Q: Please give an overview of what you do in your role. What are you covering now or plan to cover by end of year? Ms Betsy: We start in September with hopping and move to skipping, galloping, forward rolls, and balancing and developing core strength. In Jan. we start to put it all together and start to do ball skills where we balance and hold a ball, throw a ball, or kick a ball while we stand. We end the year with jumping rope and doing multiple motor skills tasks at the same time. The kids start the year not knowing how to regulate their energy, i.e..calm to high energy and back to calm…but by the end of the year they can regulate their energy for what is asked of them throughout the day. Q: What do you like about what you do? Ms Betsy: I love seeing them succeed at a skill. I love seeing them say that they do not think they can do something and then they surprise themselves and can do it. I love seeing them quiet their body by taking deep breaths into their turtle back (child’s pose in yoga) and then get up and hop as fast as they can and then go back to breathe into their turtle back. Q: Can you give me an example of how what you do has made an impact on a kid or kids at Crocker? Ms Betsy: I hope that kids at Crocker better understand their body and their mind and it’s importance in our world. I always start the class with a mindfulness piece about what is going on in Nature at that exact time. I hope that when they leave my class after 1st grade that they can be more connected with their breathing and can relax their body or energize their body if they need to using their breath. I hope that they learn to balance their brain after learning the movements and that they can write, draw and read better. I hope that they have fun while moving and can enjoy being kids. Q: Anything else worth mentioning that parents might be interested in knowing? Ms Betsy: I love teaching your kids at Crocker! I love how the kids remember motor skills as they get older and say hi to me in the hallways. I love how the teachers participate in my classes with the kids and always enjoy it. I love moving with your kids so that our brains and our bodies grow. I most like teaching all of us to “Take 5” (inhaling 5 deep breaths and exhaling 5 deep breaths to slow our bodies and our minds down to allow for better focus and calm). We think better and we feel better! The kids at Crocker are so lucky that they get to do motor skills and I feel so lucky to be their teacher. The Motor Skills and Mindfulness program is one of the many programs paid for by the Crocker PTA. Please donate to Annual Giving to continue to keep this and our other programs running!