CHARLESTON, S.C. — Dawn Althen, a dedicated cadet teacher at Charleston’s Early College High School, is embarking on a mission to bring peace and well-being into her classroom. With over five years of teaching experience, Althen guides students through a program that grants dual credit through the College of Charleston while nurturing their aspirations of becoming educators. Her class also focuses on enhancing students’ presentation skills and public speaking abilities.
Althen’s classroom typically hosts 20 to 25 teacher cadets each year, exclusively juniors and seniors. Approximately six to seven of her students annually decide to pursue a teaching career after completing her course. Towards the culmination of their training, these teacher cadets select an elementary or middle school, choose a grade level, and devote two to three weeks to gaining hands-on classroom experience.
“This exposure,” Althen explains, “offers them a glimpse into a potential career path, helping them discern whether teaching is the right fit for them.”
Recognizing the pressing need for students to find inner calm in today’s fast-paced world, Althen has initiated a new club in her classroom dedicated to yoga and meditation. She believes that this endeavor will afford her students precious moments to disconnect from their digital devices and prioritize their mental well-being. Althen has observed increased anxiety among students following the pandemic, particularly among those accelerating through challenging college-level courses.
“For students juggling a rigorous academic load, their stress levels are often higher than the typical high schooler’s,” Althen notes. “I hope this club will provide them with a weekly opportunity to turn inward, momentarily setting aside the distractions of the outside world. Learning to breathe and find inner peace may sound simple, but it’s a vital skill.”
Althen specializes in teaching education and psychology and has herself practiced yoga intermittently for years. She encourages her students to incorporate yoga into their daily routines as a means of mental relaxation.
“If you’ve ever tried yoga for the first time, you might feel a bit lost at first, not knowing what to do with your arms or how to position yourself,” Althen shares. “However, over time, students come to appreciate it as a valuable tool for self-calming.”
Althen has turned to Donors Choose to seek support for her initiative. She acknowledges that while her teaching experience has led her to accumulate an array of school supplies, yoga mats are a unique requirement. She hopes to spare her students the burden of lugging their own mats to and from school.
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