1+1: Jessica Cullum wants to help elementary students learn how to respond to strong emotions

RAPID CITY, S.D. – NewsCenter1 and First Interstate Bank gave away another $500 gift card for the 1+1 Giveaway.

This giveaway is for a deserving educator and the money will help improve their classroom or school.

For the beginning of November, the winner was Jessica Cullum, counselor of Knollwood Heights Elementary School.

She has been at the school for nine years, helping students deal with their stronger emotions in classrooms.

Photos of safe places in Knollwood Elementary:

Q&A with Jessica Cullum:

How does it feel to win the 1+1 Giveaway?

“It is so exciting because out safe places in our classrooms are getting a little bit deteriorated. So, I’m super excited to be able to help like every single student in the school with this gift by getting fidgets, things like that, to help them regulate their emotions in the classroom.”

How do safe places work?

“So, safe places are for kids who are having really big emotions that they aren’t necessarily able to leave the classroom or go home or anything like that. So, they’ve got some stuff going on and they’re having some big emotions and this is a way for them to stay in the classroom but still get the help that they need. They also learn themselves after we’ve taught them the process of the safe place, how to learn how to regulate their emotions on their own. So it really does help them in the future of being able to regulate their emotions.”

How long have classrooms had safe places?

“At least probably five or six years now.”

What does your job look like throughout the day?

“Being a school counselor, I work with students individually and also in groups, definitely helping them with social skills, things like that. Also, regulating their emotions, but also friendship skills. Everyday things that they might not have the best knowledge of being elementary kids. Then I help with kids that may need breaks if they’re having those big feelings and also for parents and the community and guardians who need some resources or help outside of school too.”

How long have you been working at Knollwood Elementary?

“This is my ninth year now. I love what I do. It’s an amazing job.”

Why is it important to have safe spaces and keep them updated in classrooms?

“So we have had the safe places for quite a few years. So, we really want to update those with different fidgets and things like that, that can help teach students how to regulate their own body and help them with those big emotions. But also, it’s kind of a difficult area here in our community. So when they have big issues going on at home, we want them here at Knollwood to feel safe to come into school. We want them to be the best learners that they can be. So that’s why the safe place is perfect in every classroom, because then they can get those emotions out and then they can get back to work and keep learning.”

Categories: 1+1 Giveaway, Local News, South Dakota News