Community time serves as outlet for teaching vital life skills

As a new addition to JanTerm, activities have been set up during community time that teach students life skills that they would not normally learn during the school year. Not only is this an opportunity for students to obtain new abilities, but it is also a way to eradicate the boredom of having nothing to do. Dean of girls Tiffany Boozer decided to initiate these activities and reached out to the faculty for help.

“Over the years students have mentioned that they wish they could learn some basics — about money, cooking, and other life skills,” said Boozer. “We thought community time could be an interesting way to provide 30 minute lessons on some of those basics.  We reached out to the faculty to see what they might be interested in doing and some of them even recruited other people outside the faculty who had expertise in money management, interior design, etc. to help out. We also asked students what kind of classes they might want and found some good fits, especially taking into account student interest and faculty skills.”

One of these new installments was a meditation class led by Broyles Arts Center manager Terri Cooke. The class touched on the concept of meditation, why and how it is practiced, and specifically the benefits that come from it. They also went over how to do a simple breathing meditation. Then, they performed the breathing meditation and talked about how it affected them, if they enjoyed it, and the overall experience.

Cooke has also taught a lesson on how to do laundry. She went through the process step-by-step with the students and explained how to prevent certain things from happening, like how to make sure that all the clothes stay their original color and how to remove stains.

“I don’t teach here at school so it was exciting to teach during  community time,” said Cooke. “I teach meditation classes mostly to adults, so it was nice to switch it up and talk to teenagers.”

Another class that was taught was “How to Change a Tire” with physics teacher Akwetee Watkins. He is also thinking about adding “How to Jumpstart a Car” and “How to Change Your Oil” for next year’s JanTerm.

“One of the best things about these classes is being able to teach something a little bit different from what I normally teach,” said Watkins. “It makes me think about stuff I know in a different way and it makes me think about how would I explain it to someone who has very little experience in that particular department. So, I can change a tire in four minutes, but how do you explain it to a student over a period of 45 minutes? I had to narrow things down and figure out what the important steps are.”

The first thing the students did was ensure that the car wouldn’t roll and that it was stable. Then, Watkins taught the students how to loosen up the lug nuts in the tires. Next, he showed them how to operate the car jack, which is what raises the car off of the ground. Then, he took the lug nuts off and switched out the old tire with a new one. He also taught them how to reverse the process to bring the car back down as well.

“It was the most important thing for me to show the students what parts could be dangerous,” said Watkins. “So, I narrowed it down to five steps and went in depth for each one of them.”

Since the students were not changing the tires themselves, it was important for them to see the portions of the car that they would have to work on.

“I got the students to lie on the ground and actually look under the car to see where you had to jack it up,” said Watkins.  “I doubt very many students have actually laid on the ground and looked under one of their parent’s cars and seen what was going on. Once they were actually down there, they had fun. Like, ‘Oh this is what it looks like down here’.”

Certain classes were well attended while others lacked large turnouts because the flexibility of JanTerm meant a lot of students and teachers were off campus during these times. There are multiple reasons that students may not have had the opportunity to attend these classes, but those who did seemed to enjoy and appreciate them.

“With such intensive classes, students also need downtime so it is understandable that going to yet another ‘lesson’ may not be what a student needs during an afternoon break,” said Boozer.  “So, for the students who have wanted and have been able to attend one of these community time classes, I am delighted to have helped provide them.”