Jordan School District creates ‘zen center’ break area for teachers

Aug 23, 2022, 5:04 PM | Updated: 6:48 pm

WEST JORDAN, Utah — The last couple of years have been tough on students and teachers alike. Schools across the country have tried to answer those needs by borrowing ideas that have not necessarily been a part of traditional schools. The Jordan School District has come up with an idea for teachers that others may want to follow.

Teachers have been stressed out by the demands of the pandemic, staffing shortages, and the typical demands of teaching. They’re also stressed out by all of the things that stress out the rest of the population, like inflation and the housing crunch. So, the Jordan School District recognized they need a quiet space of their own.

“Teachers were just having a rough time. So, they started it out as soon as they could,” Cody Owen, enjoying a little bit of peace and quiet in the Zen Center at Sunset Middle School in West Jordan said.

Owen is an eighth-grade US History Teacher. He’s taking a break, enjoying a massage chair, the tranquility of a water feature, and clearing his head in the Zen Center.

“A place to come and be like… You know what? I need to relax,” he said.

When they’re in front of the students, teachers must keep their cool. They have to keep their struggles inside, no matter what they are.

“You’ve got to let some of the small stuff go,” Owen said. “So, that can really get to you. So to have a small quiet space to be able to like… take a deep breath, we’re here.”

The Zen Center provides a space for teachers to shake off whatever is troubling them, and recharge. “This is your quiet space where you can kind of let your stresses melt off a little bit, take a breather before you go back out into the fray,” Owen said.

A space that attends to a teacher’s needs in a way that the original school might not.

“If the adults aren’t OK, the kids don’t stand a chance. So, we need to be at our best while we’re here in the nest,” said Audrey Fish, Sunset Ridge Principal.

Fish said they borrowed the idea from the wellness room for the students.

“The adult one is called the Zen Center, and the kids’ is called the Zen Den.”

They started the Zen Den for students prior to the pandemic.

“That’s a really used space,” Fish said.

Recognizing wellness challenges for students and teachers, the district now has centers for students in all schools and plans to add rooms in each school for teachers.

“A space for them to just be if they want,” Fish said. “We don’t have a check-in, check out. It’s whoever wants to come and use it. But they can come and take a minute.”

It’s a way to make sure the students and teachers are having productive days.

“The main reason you teach is because you want to help students,” Owen said. “And, you can’t help students if you are about to jump down their throat.”

Funding for the wellness rooms for both the students and the teachers is coming from the Jordan Education Foundation and also the Ron McBride Foundation.

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Jordan School District creates ‘zen center’ break area for teachers