Assistant Principal Spotlight: Mr. Q

Assistant Principal Spotlight: Mr. Q
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My Mental Health Social Story

By: Aaron Quarterman

Assistant Principal Keystone Elementary

When I began working at Keystone I was asked by the behavior specialist, and the special education liaison to play a board game as a reward for a student who was gifted yet had severe anger, mental and emotional issues. For some reason, playing a game of checkers worked as a tool to motivate this student to behave as I taught him how to play through our many tournaments. I could not believe this was the same kid that I used to discipline for his numerous emotional outbursts earlier in the year. 

A couple of years later I brought my old Foosball table to Keystone from my home that I used to play with my kids when they were little. I was going to throw it out because it was now taking up space in my garage. However, I thought “Why not donate this old game to the school?” I wanted to show our kids a good old fashion table game that requires strategy plus hand and eye coordination. 

I discovered that we had a lot of students in the lower grades who needed a different approach by making an attempt to break through their mental barrier.The question was, “Could Foosball be used as an effective motivational tool and an emotional outlet?” My idea was to allow the kids to have fun while taking out their aggression and anger on the game. The thought was that our staff would be able to use the game as a reward for some of our more difficult and challenging younger students. Most of these students were already diagnosed with a disability and some of them were in the process of being tested. 

The Foosball table was placed in an area above the library that is surrounded by large glass windows on three sides. I let our staff know that they could use the game as a reward for our more difficult and challenging students who had a good couple of days. It could also be used as a tool for kids who were very impulsive and explosive and were not having a good day. I did not expect that I would be the one that the teachers call upon to play the game with those students. What I found with this generation of kids is that they have to be taught how to play an indoor hands-on interactive game. Secondly, they are used to sitting in front of a TV or computer screen playing games with handheld consoles for many hours.

Fortunately, I also noticed that once the kids got the hang of playing Foosball they loved it and looked forward to playing it again. Even kids who could not speak a word of English had no language barriers when they were introduced to a hands-on, fun, interactive and challenging table game. No matter what type of bad mood the kids were in, playing Foosball always seemed to bring plenty of smiles and laughter to their faces. Now, whenever we get a new Inclusion specialist or PCA in the building I let them know about the purpose of the Foosball game in our activity room. Fortunately more employees that work with these kids are now taking advantage of the opportunity of playing Foosball with them.

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