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New Book May Aid Newtown, Connecticut Schools in Returning Normalcy to Teaching and Learning

As students, teachers and parents in Newtown, Connecticut returned to school after an extended winter break forced upon them by an unspeakable tragedy, they may be aided in their journey back to normalcy by a Brookline, NH teacher and author.

Sandy Bothmer, a transplanted mid-westerner who now calls Brookline and Hollis, NH her home, authored a book nearly 10 years ago which was recently revised and republished by Hobblebush Books in 2011. Her book will be used by teachers and parents in the Newtown schools as they begin the task of putting their lives back together and getting on with the job of teaching and learning despite the memories of what happened and the challenges of returning to a state of normalcy.

Bothmer's book, "Creating the Peceable Classroom" was not written for tragic circumstances. It was written for the purpose of enhancing learning by calming the emotions of children who arrive at school with a diverse range of experiences which can divert them from their purpose at school: learning.

Bothmer who taught at the Hollis Primary School from 1987 to 1997 said students who come to school arrive after experiencing different things at home or on the school bus or at the school itself. Some of these expriences distract students from learning and Bothmer recommends dfferent activities like yoga, spirals and labyrinths, music and movement to hlp students become focused and energized for learning.

"We need ways to help everyone in school learn," Bothmer said. "We need techniques for students to be at ease in their bodies, minds and emotions." Bothmer incorporates these techniques in her work at Hollis resident Rosemary Clough's studio, Moving Spirit the Center for Yoga, Dance & Wellness in Merrimack.

It was this approach that caught the attention of an Occupational Therapist in the Newtown Public Schools. A few days after the tragic shooting, Bothmer's publisher, Hobbelbush Books, called her and said an individual in Newtown had contacted him about donating copies of her book to the schools. The publisher agreed to donate some books and shortly after that the Newtown Schools ordered 160 copies of the book paid by an anonymous donor.

The book was distributed to teachers in Newtown with a letter explaining why the book was being provided. The Newtown Schools have invited Bothmer to their district to work with teachers on the methods outlined in the book. Bothmer accepted the invitation and is expected to visit there in March.

The whole experience in the days and weeks following the tragic shooting and the sudden introduction of her book into the healing process has left Bothmer with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, there is the pain and suffering of residents in Newtown. On the other hand, there is a wonderful feeling that something you created could be helpful to heal the hurt inflicted on so many. "I teared up when I got the call from my publisher about the book purchase," Bothmer said. "I never imagined my book would be used in these circumstances."

Groton Herald

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