DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) – In between math and spelling, you can catch students in Kim Carvers class doing yoga, writing out spelling words with flash lights in the dark or in shaving cream, but their favorite activity, riding bikes outside.
Spelling words, that’s what Carver’s class was hard at work on inside William Harris Learning Academy on Wednesday.
We asked Seandrick, a fourth grader, if he liked learning in the class. “Yeah, cause it’s fun,” he said.
But in the back of the classroom sits what most students are really looking forward to, riding a bike.
“You could ride with one hand or no hand. I can do no hands,” Amir, a third grader, said.
Carver normally has 7 students in her classroom. Students who have been transferred by administration to the alternative school. She said because most of them have behavioral issues, that have impacted their academics.
“They’re usually a year or two years behind academically,” she said.
Carver has always taught high school math. She said moving to this classroom was a real challenge at first, but now she said they’ve grown together.
“I’ve got to know the kids and I’m trying to meet them where they’re at. So, yes, I still teach the academics, but it might be done differently than what you would view in a normal classroom,” Carver said.
That’s where the bikes come in.
“You can lose weight on here too and it can turn your energy down,” Jamareon said.
“It’s like an exercise, and for stress relief and stuff, and mostly for recess,” Amir said.
Carver said the kids love getting outside and during the day they’re always asking when they can get back out.
She said for them, it’s just fun but they may not realize how much the break in their day can impact the rest of their life.
“It helps the kids with their social-emotional. So, it wears them out a little bit so they can talk, they can visit, socialize with each other, and I’m not micro managing how they socialize in the classroom and it’s a mental health break for everyone,” she said.
And even if they don’t fully realize why Carver lets them bike, or do yoga, or take these breaks, they still appreciate her.
“I want to say something, Ms. Carver is the best teacher in Williams Harris,” Sheandrick said.
Every single bike they use has been donated. Carver said a local pastor just donated several brand new bikes. She said her goal at the end of the year is to send each student home with a bike of their own. So, they can continue to get these mental health breaks even outside of her classroom.