"Zen Zone” for Teachers Unveiled in Bethlehem Area School District
Updated: May 17
*Press release and video courtesy of The Foundation for the Bethlehem Area School District)
BETHLEHEM, PA (May 4, 2021) –A unique space designed specifically for staff of Donegan Elementary School, and made possible by community partners, was officially opened Monday, May 3 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Zen Zone is a space for staff to recharge during the school day and this dedicated space allows the school’s staff to intentionally focus on self awareness and self-regulation.
“The Zen Zone is a peaceful place within our school where staff can come to relax and practice mindfulness for a few minutes during their busy and stressful days,” said Rosa Carides-Hof, Donegan School Wellness Team lead and project coordinator. “The beautiful room was designed with our staff in mind and enthusiastically supported by amazing community partners.”
Principal Erin Martin-Medina, BASD Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Joseph Roy, Dr. Jack Silva, Assistant Superintendent & Chief Academic Officer, and Maureen Wendling, Executive Director of Shanthi Project enjoy a tour of The Zen Zone.
Air Products provided a grant to create and furnish the Zen Zone and Shanthi Project, a nonprofit organization focused on mindfulness, served as the subject matter expert for the room and the furnishings. Designers Laura Bennett Shelton and Shanthi Project's certified mindfulness teacher, Helene Perrucci, built the space and selected the décor, while volunteers from Grace Church Bethlehem and GraceWay Community Church prepped and painted the space. The Foundation for the Bethlehem Area School District provided support and guidance.
“The Bethlehem Area School District is very fortunate to have Air Products’ continued investment and support for our schools, students and staff,” said Superintendent Dr. Joseph Roy. “The Zen Zone is a shining example how the collaboration of non-profits and businesses provide transformational improvements benefiting the community of our schools.”
With continued support of partners like Laurie Gostley-Hackett of Air Products (top left), Shanthi Project's certified mindfulness teachers, Helene Perrucci and Sarah Dennehy, will give all Donegan staff a tour of The Zen Zone to show them mindfulness practices that work in each area to support their long and short-term goals when using the space.
According to data presented at the PA Mental Health Summit webinar in November 2020, 84% of educators reported their own mental health is significantly worse than it was one year ago. Current trends are showing that mental health concerns will increase significantly over the next six months.
The Zen Zone is an intentional space allowing staff to find peace during stressful times in their personal and professional lives. Upon entering, staff respond to questions which direct them to one of four zones within the center: Refresh, Recharge, Relax, or Reset.
Shanthi Project would like to thank everyone involved in brining the vision for The Zen Zone to life; Donegan Elementary School's Wellness Team, staff and leadership, Air Products, Bethlehem Area School District, Designer Laura Bennett Shelton, Grace Church Bethlehem and GraceWay Community Church, The Foundation for the Bethlehem Area School District. We are grateful for your partnership!