Clockwise from left: Tanner and Taylor stand behind a rocking chair they painted. International Baccalaureate students, who were supervised by art teacher Amy Roush, painted the rocking chairs. Ariana and Alexandria use pulse oximeters in Laura Sefton’s science class. NME enthusiast Taylor Porter demonstrates use of a pulse oximeter.
Visitors walking into Lauren Sefton’s Honors Anatomy & Physiology class first thing in the morning might notice students wearing pulse oximeters and recording their heart rates in journal entries. This is not part of the curriculum, however. Instead, what they are doing is related to the recently enacted Neurosequential Model in Education (NME), a program started at Westerville South High School last year, thanks to a grant from the Village Network.
NME was developed to introduce concepts related to brain development, brain functioning, and developmental trauma into everyday classroom settings. NME is not a specific “intervention,” but draws upon the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) – a neurodevelopmentally-informed, biologically respectful perspective on human development and functioning – to support those involved in educating children in gaining new perspectives on student behavior and performance. This training uses everyday classroom challenges to assist participants in directly applying basic NME concepts to the teaching and learning process. The NME can be used inside and outside the classroom by anyone involved in the education of children, and is particularly helpful in working with youngsters who have a history of adverse childhood experiences.
Last school year, the staff at Westerville South spent significant time and energy training in the NME, which provides strategies regarding how to help students regulate themselves, how to help teachers relate to students, and how to reach better academic results. Assistant Principal Taylor Porter, who has a background in social work and is spearheading the effort, explains, “The easiest way to think about what NME does is help Regulate, Relate and Reason.”
Porter also said the school invested in new rocking chairs to help students de-escalate in high stress moments. Instead of keeping them plain brown, art teacher Amy Roush enlisted the help of International Baccalaureate students who painted the chairs in the images of historical masterpieces by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent van Gogh. They will be placed in offices throughout the main lobby.
Porter says the staff at South has embraced NME, is encouraged with results so far, and is interested in its expansion.