- Public Schools of the Tarrytowns
The Morse Sensory Paths
When you walk on the first and third floors at W.L. Morse, your eyes can not miss the brightly colored ‘sensory path’ that guides you through the hallways. The pathways, marked by flowers, handprints and swirls, is designed to help students refocus and release energy. In a traditional school setting, that energy can cause stress and could deter a student from achieving his or her best work.
First-grader Isla Sheehan utilizes the sensory pathway to improve her concentration. She twirls and spins. “I use it a lot. It helps me calm down,” she said.
The sensory paths provide students in the general and special education population with a positive
outlet to avoid outbursts and potentially disruptive behavior. “We are teaching children that they have control over how they learn,” said Principal Torrance Walley. “By giving them options that help them focus and manage emotions, the sensory path helps them to understand how they can become a better learner.”
First grade teacher Megan Delo believed in the concept and, after watching a video, spoke with the administration about adding a pathway at Morse.
Delo recognized the importance of this tool. “There are a lot of children who need to get energy out and they know they need quiet time. A quick break, alone or with a buddy, allows them to take ownership of how they feel.”
The sensory pathway represents a team effort. Morse purchased the walkway for the first floor and the Morse PTA provided the funds for the third floor.
Head custodian Greg Valentin laid the decals on freshly cleaned floors over the summer. This was an important step to ensure that it lay smoothly, without bubbles, so the pathway would not peel off and need to be replaced. At the beginning of the school year, teachers introduced all the children to the sensory path.
School Psychologist, Dr. Ivette Lebenberg shared, “The pathways address the Social Emotional Learning (SEL) core competencies which the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns has made a priority. Students are gaining self-awareness and responsible decision-making skills by requesting to use this valuable tool.”
Dr. Lebenberg has employed it with students and seen immediate results. “Anger, sadness, inattention – these are areas addressed by the paths.” Adults are often told to exercise or take a walk to deal with their emotions. Experts agree children often need the same release.
Members of the Eastchester School District visited Morse to see how a sensory path can supplement a student’s learning process. Following its successful implementation, Principal Walley would like to expand the initiative by adding an additional Sensory Path to the second floor. The students are looking forward to it!