Mindfulness practices and imagination are two things you can learn from this educator

Nov 5, 2018 | Turning Point

Kelly Von Busch remembers exactly when she came to the realization that education was going to be a passion of hers. The birth of her daughter opened her eyes to the fact that children are so aware of everything from conversations going on around them to visual stimuli.

The Walden School sets a positive tone with the creation of a mural located at the entrance to the front office.

Items that are used along with their calming mat

Since that early understanding of her own child’s world, she has pursued learning more about the emotional, physical, intellectual, and social development of children. Kelly, who taught for many years, is now in her fourth year as director of the lower school at Walden School.

Kelly grew up in Paducah, Kentucky, and although she says education was not stressed in her family, after high school she attended the University of Louisville. “At the time I was just trying to explore and discover who I was. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in science and focused specifically on the study of wolves. After graduation I didn’t feel that field studies of wolves in the woods was going to fit with marriage and raising a family. I had worked my way through school in the restaurant business and ended up as the manager at Captain’s Quarters. My husband, Daniel, is a chef. We were in the same business, and that’s how we met.”

When their daughter was 3 years old, Kelly earned her Montessori training certificate and taught at Kenwood Montessori School for five years.

“In 2006, a family friend encouraged me to come to Walden. I started teaching kindergarten then moved to first and second grades. This was great exposure for getting a feel for the whole child development — social skills, emotional growth, and academic development.

The dot chair is used in conjunction with a children’s story titled The Dot.

“In education, having a community is just as important as the academic piece. It is important to create a community where kids can learn from mistakes, grow in self-awareness and social connection, and acquire different strategies to self-regulate along with opportunities to practice those strategies. Walden’s environment supports that goal.”

Kelly says mindfulness practices have become an important tool in her tool box. From the calming mat and pillows in the corner of her office to the use of the colorful geodesic dome-shaped breathing ball, there are all sorts of techniques and styles to teaching mindfulness that help the students keep their focus and make better decisions.

Kelly also championed the creation of the school’s playground of the imagination.

“Not all children enjoy tag or soccer or other sporting activities. It is important to have areas where children can be engaged in imaginative play  outside such as our fairy garden, the sand table, the fossil bed, or the vegetable garden. Children are creative and love imaginary play, and this area gives them space to create and use their imagination.”

Some final thoughts on her journey:

“I’ve learned that we are all so hard on ourselves. We want to be happy individuals and be a part of a community or group. We are all on different places on the path. Some are just beginning and some are far ahead, and we need to be kind to ourselves and to each other.”