Zavala Elementary receives $21K grant for ‘Wellness and Calm Room’ to help teachers, staff

Posted at 4:59 PM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 23:37:25-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers chapter was awarded a grant today to develop a center designed to allow teachers and staff at Zavala Elementary School to de-stress.

The planned wellness and calm room is set to include water fountains, massage chairs and even a garden area. In total, the school was awarded $21,000 — which is $4,000 more than what AFT had originally requested from their national organization. The funding comes as a result of an application sent out to AFT's Innovation Fund for COVID-19 Response Grants. That application can be found here.

Although construction of the room has not yet started, Corpus Christi AFT President Nancy Vera said she hopes the new center will help teachers as they continue to adapt and work through the pandemic.

"That’s the one thing that we’ve noticed is that not too many people are paying attention to the mental health of our teachers and our employees and our school districts," Vera said. "This is one step that we’re taking in order to help them."

Zavala Elementary School sits within a low-income area and is one of AFT's community schools. As a result, its is often provided resources like the chapter and other organizations.

"It is often times a little — a little difficult," said Mercedes Quijije-Sudhoff, a 2nd-grade Teacher at Zavala.

Zavala Elementary Principal Judith Hale Hinojosa echoes the struggles her teachers have faced. Ultimately, she hopes the room will work to boost the morale of those working at her school.

"It’s been difficult, a difficult year, and this is just another way we can help meet the needs of the children and also the teachers," Hinojosa said.
"This is going to really boost the morale of the teachers, (having) a place where they can reflect and rest for a moment and to get re-energized."

Even without a wellness room and through the challenges of adapting to new ways of teaching, Quijije-Sudhoff, who's been teaching for 14 years, said she doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon.

"At least one kid. One kid every year is all it takes to try to change," she said. "One kid at a time."