“It’s a tool, not a toy,” Kroll said.
The walls were painted a calming shade of blue. A fidget board in the shape of an alligator was hung on the wall. Items were organized onto shelves. The little notes Bescheinen had jotted down — the ones discovered in her desk — help guide the process.
The school is hoping it can be a way to address the mental health needs of its students, Wenzl said.
“We’re seeing a lot more anxiety and stress in kids than we ever have,” the principal said. “And that’s something we’re constantly talking about for staff and students: ‘How can we help meet those mental health needs?'”
There’s also growing research that shows sensory input is vital to student learning, said Kroll. Kids are overwhelmed with all sorts of stimuli during the school day that can get in the way of learning.
“We’ve never really understood that before,” she said.
In the room is more wisdom, too, a quote framed high on one of the walls.
One of the many bits of advice Bescheinen would tell her fellow teachers: Choose joy.
She was known for her mottoes like this, her mother, Gail Ortegren, said.
When she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2017, it was, “Enjoy the little things.” After the cancer spread to her lungs the next year, it was “Choose joy.”