Classroom Champions: Charleston teacher needs yoga mats

Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 7:30 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 4, 2023 at 7:58 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - A cadet teacher at Charleston’s Early College High School is looking for a peaceful addition for her classroom.

Dawn Althen has been teaching at Early College for five years. Students there receive dual credit through the College of Charleston and the class is designated for kids who want to pursue a teaching career. Her class also helps students with presenting information and public speaking.

Althen says she normally has 20 to 25 teacher cadets every year and you have to be a junior or senior to take the class. From her experience, Althen says around six or seven of her students leave Early College and pursue a teaching career. By the end of the course, teacher cadets pick an elementary or middle school, select a grade level and they spend two to three weeks in the classroom.

“So, it gives them a little peak into a career in whether it’s something they’d like to do or not,” Althen says.

She is starting a new club with her students that focuses on yoga and meditation. She thinks this will allow students time to shut down their phones and focus on their mental well-being. Althen says she’s found after the pandemic that kids are much more anxious, and they have a struggle with focusing on what is inside.

“And for students who are accelerating since they’re taking all of these college-level classes, their stress level, I think is a little higher than a normal high school kid,” Althen says. “So I’m hoping that this club will give them a little more time every week to kind of focus in and forget on all the things that are going on outside and — I know it sounds silly — but learn how to breathe and learn how to be peaceful within their own selves.”

Althen teaches education and psychology.

Althen says she’s done yoga on and off for years so she pushes her students to try to fit yoga in their day to help them with mental relaxation.

“If you’ve ever done yoga, the first time, you don’t know what to do with your arms or you don’t know what to do with yourself, but I think you walk away with it with an appreciation as a way for them to calm themselves down a little bit,” Althen says.

Althen said Donors Choose has so many projects that are worthwhile. She says she’s been teaching for so long, she doesn’t need markers or pencils. But yoga mats are expensive, and she doesn’t want to ask her kids to lug their own yoga mats with them back and forth to school.

If you want to help this teacher and become a Classroom Champion, you can click here and help donate.

Althen’s long-term goal is to contact yoga teachers in the community to come out and volunteer some of their time on Fridays for half an hour. If you are a yoga teacher and would like to reach out, you can email Althen at: