Because students at School for the Highly Gifted in Grand Prairie ISD are ahead of the curve when it comes to academics, people often assume they are emotionally mature.
But they struggle with emotions like any other kid, often expressed through behaviors that disrupt learning for themselves and others – angry outbursts, irritability, feeling low or just shutting down.
As part of The Holdsworth Center’s Campus Leadership Program, school leaders focused on helping students develop coping skills that would help them manage big feelings – not just in school, but in life.
“Holdsworth made us slow down and reflect and bring everyone to the table, including our students,” said former principal Holly Mohler. “That was a key turning point for us. The little voices at the table had a lot to say.”
Leaders created a 20-minute break in the day called My Time for students to come together and do gentle movement and practice breathing techniques.
Almost immediately, staff and parents noticed changes in their students. Within a year, the percentage of 5th an 6th grade students needing intervention for behavior fell from 56 to less than 20 percent.
“The moment I realized this was going to create results for our students was watching a student in the middle of their math class doing their square breathing we had gone over in My Time,” Mohler said. “I think I stopped on a dime and almost lost it because I was like, ‘This is working, and it’s working in a way that is accessible for the students without any adult support.’”