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Boise teacher uses outdoor adventures to boost kids' mental health

Christina Russell says it's important to get her second graders at Peace Valley Charter School off their screens during the day.

BOISE, Idaho — Participating in remote learning can make it difficult for students to get a break from screens during the school day. A teacher at Boise's Peace Valley Public Charter School has been working to make her classroom's mental health - and some fresh air - a priority.

Like many other Idaho schools caught in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, Peace Valley has been doing online remote learning on-and-off this year.

Christina Russell knew that means her second-graders are on devices for much of the day, so she found ways for them to escape the screens.

"My students are so young I don't want to have them on the computer all day and it's also something with our Waldorf education that's actually a lot more in person, hands-on," Russell said.

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Russell recently gathered with seven of her 20 students at the MK Nature Center in Boise. The learning meet-ups are optional, she says, but can provide a big boost to student's mental state. 

"Just for them to be able to come outside, see each other, get the fresh air and vitamin D," she said. "There's so much to look at here at the nature  center."

Russell says she believes outdoor adventures are helping keep her students happy even in the middle of frightening and uncertain times.

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"These children are learning to be humans," Russell said. "They're learning to be adults right now, and how to interact with each other. So it's very important to be with each other and see each other."

If you would like to nominate a teacher for us to feature just email us at innovativeeducator@ktvb.com. Tell us a little about what makes them special or innovative.

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If you would like to nominate a teacher who is going above and beyond, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com. Educators, for more information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org.

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