Class helps students shift into happiness

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SANDPOINT — In an increasingly competitive and success-oriented national school system, it is more important than ever to make a concentrated effort to care for students’ mental health and well-being.

Sandpoint High School teacher Erin Roos was determined to care for the emotional health of her students when she pursued the Happy On Purpose curriculum, made possible by a grant from the Panhandle Alliance for Education.

“Our world is a much different place than any other time in history, with more pressure and expectations... It has never been more imperative to equip our students with the tools to be socially and emotionally well,” Roos said.

The Happy On Purpose curriculum was created by longtime life coach Leslie Villelli. Villelli guest-taught a three-day HOP series in Roos’ Real Life classes for several years with resounding positive results. Villelli has also taught her HOP course throughout high schools in the Lake Pend Oreille School District, as well as at Bonners Ferry and Post Falls high schools.

Roos sought the curriculum through a PAFE grant to increase the amount and consistency of HOP practice in order to hardwire the skills that can change her students’ lives. Roos said she feels as though her students who took the HOP class left with invaluable life tools.

“After 66 hours of instruction and experimentation, I saw a shift in attitude, confidence, and decision making,” Roos said.

The HOP curriculum focuses on retraining the brain in order to control negative thoughts and make conscious and concerted efforts to be happy. Roos took a six month course to master the material and become a certified HOP coach, and then taught her students the same curriculum.

"Each student who is healthy and happy has a positive ripple effect on everyone with whom they come into contact," Roos said. "This grant will be the beginning of an empowering paradigm shift for students who experience this semester-long course."

Students who took the semester HOP course had positive feedback as to the class’ impact that echoes Roos’ praise. Freshman Marissa Ribero confirmed that it was life changing for her.

"I liked Mrs. Roos’ class a lot because when I went in there, I thought that there wasn’t really a purpose in life, and the class wasn’t going to help, but then when I left at the end of the semester, I had totally changed and I loved my life," Ribero said. "I definitely feel like I am going to carry what I learned through my life, because I learned things that I needed to know, and that stuck with me."

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