December 15, 2022 — At the start of her teaching career, 8th-grade science teacher Kelly Simmons made it her mission to provide her students with positive experiences. Thirty-five years later, Simmons started the Wildflowers group at Medina Middle School.
She recalled observing students who consistently visited the office due to behavioral issues from inside her classroom.
“Some kids don’t get a break. School is very stressful. You’ve got a lot of work to do at school and at home,” said Psalms Clark-Henry, an 8th grader.
“I kept thinking I want to reach them,” said Simmons. “I know there is good in them. I just have to help them try to find it. I want to do something for them.”
The Wildflowers, a group of 18 female students, meet weekly to discuss healthy coping mechanisms, self-empowerment skills, and social awareness.
“It’s really fun because you get to talk and share things that are important to you, talk about your feelings, have fun, and get together with your friends,” said Clark-Henry.
Simmons rewards students with good behavior with after school activities that inform them of the opportunities open for them and their futures.
In November, the Wildflowers learned about self-care with a spa day. The girls learned what it means to care for oneself through yoga, pedicures, face care, and massages.
“It makes me feel loved and appreciated,” said Jade Sword, an 8th grader, when asked her thoughts on her teacher educating her on self-care.
Most recently, the group took a trip to Otterbein University, where they attended a seminar about cultivating joyful learning spaces for black girls.
“They got to hear a wonderful speaker talk about culture, how it affects young ladies, and how they can rise above,” said Simmons.
Simmons and the Wildflowers look to reconvene after Winter Break, when they will begin learning about healthy bodies and nutrition as they prepare to take on the Susan G. Coleman 5K Run/Walk in May.