Focus Rooms now in use in R-2 schools

Roxie Murphy
Staff Writer

A “Focus Room” project that the Gasconade County R-2 School District has been trying to implement since late summer is finally coming to fruition, according to Dr. Jeri Kay Hardy at the Dec. 17 board meeting.

“This is going to be an added program that is going to help kids that don’t have the social skills necessarily to let an adult be in charge,” Hardy said. “One thing that I am really excited about is on Dec. 6 and 7, our Focus Room technicians trained with Jody Haward, and our three ladies that are going to be in those rooms were in attendance both days.”

Administrators also stayed for the training so they would know what to expect when they send a student to the Focus Room. Hardy said it is the kids who take on a lot of responsibility at home — taking care of siblings and house chores, and being in charge — that have the most trouble allowing someone else to be in charge during school hours.

“They are not okay with an adult being in charge,” Hardy said. “It (the Focus Room) teaches them the social skills that it is okay for an adult to be in charge and there is a process to learning those skills,” she said. “Another intricate part is that when they go back to the classroom, they have to make it okay with the teacher. They go back in and have that conversation with the teacher about why they came out and that they are going to try to be better in that room.”

Hardy said the Focus Room is another tool for the teachers. When the students are able to stay in the classroom more because they have learned the skills, they are not missing out on their core academic course, and they are not going to be missing out on social time with their peers. 

“They are going to be in that classroom and learning how to communicate better with their peers and also with adults and other people in those buildings,” Hardy said.

The Focus Room technicians are really excited to get started, and have been working on their classrooms.

R-2 directors in October approved the transfers of Jennifer McClurg, an Owensville Elementary School personal aid, and Heather Ashner, an Owensville Middle School paraprofessional, into positions as Focus Room technicians. Janna Janssen was approved as a new hire.

The rooms are located at each of the districts elementary schools and at the middle school.