Finding Hope in Your Safe Haven

By March 19, 2018Guest Blogs

A beautiful story written by Ms. Katie Booser, a 4th grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School in Santa Barbara.

Finding Hope

“I challenge you all to get up and move 5 minutes a day…”  was the simple video message that changed my life. Jenny Schatzle was someone who I had heard about and followed on social media for a while. I had never actually met her, but had many friends who told me what a bright light she was in their life. They described her as a positive, full-of-energy woman who would get you up and moving any time of day and in any place.

For those of you who follow Jenny, you have seen my students on her feed. We have been moving 5 minutes a day since January, and have documented over 3 1/2 hours of movement time! I’ve noticed such a difference in my students! They are: happier, more focused, smiling and laughing more, their grades are improving, and they have taken the challenge HOME! I’m telling you, if you walk into my classroom when we are in our #MoveWithJenny time, they are loud, and jumping around. After the 5 minutes are over, they are back at their seats, working. I truly believe that getting kids up and moving helps their attention, focuses their energy, and generally makes them happier kids! If you don’t believe me… come see for yourself!

These kids will tell you how much they enjoy it and what they do on the weekends to move their families. One student told me “I made my sister do stairs and told her: Just 5 minutes a day!” Another said, “My Mom was in a bad mood, so I suggested a walk. We ended up having a great day!” Movement MATTERS and 5 minutes usually turns into more!

A few weeks into our movement challenge, Jenny came in the classroom to surprise the kids for a Fitness Friday. They were in AWE of her energy and positivity. When she had them yell: YOU ARE AWESOME! They were saying it with everything that they had. When she left, they were more motivated to continue on our #MoveWithJenny journey.

We continued to do movement daily, taking tally marks at the front board to document. The kids love figuring out how many hours we had spent moving our bodies.

About two weeks later, I was teaching about President’s Days, and in walked Jenny and Lauren. I was caught off guard and thought to myself: Did I forget they were coming??? Jenny said hi to the kids and they all said “It’s our friend! Look who came!” She talked to them about watching their videos I would send, and how amazed she was by them.

She then said, “I’m actually here to surprise your teacher… I’m so impressed with her and how she inspires you and me, that, Miss Booser, you are getting a gift of a 6- week session to the Jenny Schatzle Program… and you start Monday!”

To say I was in shock was a complete understatement. The kids cheered and I gave Jenny a huge hug. Little did she know, that just the day before, I took a Personal Day off from work (which you teachers out there know how important these are to take). I was feeling I was not the best version of myself, which meant I wasn’t the best version for my students. I had spent the entire month of January, hoping and searching for something. I was feeling like change needed to happen, and I just wasn’t sure where to start. Jenny was my hope that walked in at the perfect time, with the most incredible gift, a session to dedicate 6-weeks to MYSELF.

Movement from the Gym to the Classroom:

The first night of the Jenny Schatzle Program, to be perfectly honest, I was extremely nervous. However, the second I arrived to the studio, my nerves faded. Jenny happened to be there, and she introduced me to my first friend at the program, Alexis, who was just starting back after she had just given birth to her son, 10 weeks prior.  This was key for me, making connections right off the bat. Alexis and I were put in the same group, and the hour session flew by!

Could I move the next morning? BARLEY! I couldn’t believe how much my body hurt (in all the right ways). It’s pretty much how I felt the entire first week.  I was proud of myself for making it through 5 straight days of classes. I saw what was difficult for me and areas I wanted to improve.

Lauren suggested I take notes after every class on my phone, and I’m so glad I did that through this process. I noticed the first week, I commented on the support I got from all the trainers. They knew my name, they came over to me when I needed guidance, and were always there to answer my questions (believe me, I was the student who when Jarratt said “Are there any questions?” My hand would usually go up!)

I also noted how much I needed help. Funny enough, this helped me realize that I, for the first time in a long time, was a STUDENT!! I found myself progressively getting more confident as the weeks went by, but I still was the student that I often see in my classroom, the one who needed reassurance that I was doing things correctly and that I was doing a good job.  I can’t even begin to express the amount of connections I’ve made with this program and teaching! Each morning the kids go, “So, how was Jenny’s Gym?” They are my biggest accountability partners!

The biggest teaching connection I made within the 6 weeks was definitely the Baseline Assessment. The point of this is to do a series of moves, for 2 rounds, looking for growth and improvement. This reminded me so much of my students and their testing. I snapped a picture of my results, and projected it the next day. I asked them what they noticed. They shouted “you did a lot better in some areas,” “some you stayed the same” “some rounds you went down.” They also asked, “do you not like push-ups and running?” I laughed, but our conversation was SO powerful. I talked about working hard, and how sometimes even when we put our best effort forward, growth doesn’t come right away. One child raised his hand and said, “I thought I was going to improve in my Language Arts grade, but I stayed the same. I know what I can do to do better.” I’m telling you, this program, this movement I’ve been doing with my students, has changed their learning. I’m pleased to report, as I’m sitting here finishing up report cards, that particular child is reading at a middle of 4th grade level because HE decided he was going to change and put in the work to grow.

The Safe Haven

I can’t begin to put into words what these 6 weeks have done for my soul. Not only has this program been powerful for my teaching, but is has been a place where I have found myself in a safe haven. I’ve spent the last 31 years being the YES girl and the DOER in all areas of my life. I love people and I truly love celebrating their successes in life, however, recently I kept feeling this missing link. Something wasn’t sitting right, and to be 100% honest, I thought it was someone I was missing. Subconsciously I was comparing myself to others, the lives they were leading, the and the lives I was celebrating. I think everyone does this at some point in their life… has that negative self-talk with themselves of: If I just find my person… or if I become more successful at work… If I make more money… If I just get up earlier… If I… If I… AHHH! It can drive you crazy!

Throughout the 6-weeks at the JSP I realized that the missing link or the “someone” I was missing was ME! Between the motivational words that the trainers leave us with at the end of class, the relationships and accountability partners that formed, and the hour I spent on myself each day, I came to realize that I was feeling what my kids were feeling each day: stronger, healthier, and most importantly, happier.

Throughout the JSP, I’ve heard a lot of people say, that the physical part of looking better is just an added bonus, and I couldn’t agree more! Physically, I’ve lost over 10 lbs, gained muscle, and moved areas of my body that I didn’t even know existed. Emotionally and mentally, I’ve been able to find the person I’ve been searching 31 years for. I’ve removed the “If I” statements and replaced them with “I Am” statements.

The Meaning Behind Hope and Haven:

The title of this post came to me when I was spending a weekend binge watching romantic comedies. Hope Floats and Save Haven were two of my feature films one evening. I was really reflecting on how I was hoping for something to change, but I wasn’t sure what. I realized, that this community, and place that I now was a part of was my Save Haven. So then I put it together: Finding Hope in Your Safe Haven. I was so proud of myself… the perfect title. Then, I about had a heart attack because I realized something else. Jenny’s twin girls are named Hope and Haven.

To all the educators out there… I challenge you to move your students as much as possible. It only takes 5 minutes and you gain happier, more focused kids in the process. If we got every teacher up and moving with their kids, I can guarantee our classrooms would be transformed!

To the whole Jenny Schatzle Team… I’m so grateful for your help and guidance on this journey. Thank you for allowing me to be THAT student who constantly asks questions and seeks reassurance! Your words of encouragement have pushed me to be stronger and more confident in myself.

And to Jenny, you have helped me find hope by creating a safe haven for me, and so many others in our community. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being my biggest cheerleader. I am looking forward to see where #MoveWithJenny goes in my classroom, in other classrooms, and in our community for YEARS to come.

To quote one of my students who wrote an article about why he thinks you are the strongest person he knows (I’m leaving his spelling as is) “Jenny makes lots of people proud. When people say I can’t do this, Jenny says Yes you can and you got this. That makes people proud and strong and happy. Jenny makes anyone proud and happy. She is the best person I have ever seen in my entire life.”  David, I couldn’t agree more!

And lastly, Here is to YOU, may you be able to find hope in whatever your safe haven may be.

-Katie Booser