Inspiring the Valley: How this local school helped cultivate student’s minds to save another’s life

Inspiring the Valley

A group of students at Kepler Neighborhood School in downtown Fresno were hailed as heroes after their actions may have prevented a woman from taking her life.

They became national heroes after their story made headlines around the country. Members of the boys volleyball team are credited with saving the life of a woman dangling from a bridge and threatening suicide.

“I felt honored that we had kids that stepped up in that way, felt proud of the children,” said Timothy Yeager, director student services.

What these boys did was talk the woman off the bridge by constantly telling her, she mattered, not to do it. It’s the same message of self-worth students hear everyday at their school.

“We have commitments here at this school that we talk about, about being brave, being kind, being inclusive, being accountable, working hard,” Yeager says.

Kepler is a charter school located in downtown Fresno. Administrators, teachers are working hard to improve student achievement. Educators think it’s just as important to focus on the whole child.

“If you want to do the kind of lasting gains and lasting changes in individuals lives it’s got to be more than an academic process, there’s got to be more to it,” says Rod Cochran, school culture coordinator.

At Kepler, there is recognition that student’s social and emotional health must be addressed before they can learn.

Students start each day gathering in a circle with a few minutes of meditation and a chance to share about their life before tackling classwork.

Starting with kindergarten they spend time each week practicing yoga.

“By creating an environment where they can be present and mindful it allows them to be ready to learn,” Cochran says.

At Kepler, they want to make sure those young men who helped save a life, have success in their own lives.

“Studies have shown that if there is just one point of encouragement, just one person to give you value, to tell you your worth it, there is a marked difference in your level of success and that’s what we want every kid to hear. that they are worth something, that they do have value,” Cochran says.

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