Thinking outside the box can really be something that helps out and impacts the future. This can be summed up when we went and checked out Mr. Tucciarone’s class during one of our photo excursions to Reilly Elementary. Al Tucciarone had the students get up and away from their desks and do some stretches. They did what I’ve been informed was the Standing Tree as well as some easier ones: reaching down and touching the toes. They even raised the roof, but I feel that was more for my benefit than something that was actually revitalizing. Realizing this is a little unorthodox, I circled back and asked Mr. Tucciarone some questions about why and what he has his students do.
Q: Why do you do stretches with your students, and does it help?
A: We do stretches about 1/2 hour into the lesson because the children start to drift away from the instruction. The standing and stretching gets the heart and blood moving again, and it revitalizes the children. At this point they are refreshed and ready to continue. It absolutely works.
Q: What kind of stretches do you do?
A: We do a yoga move called the Standing Tree. My wife, Shelley, showed it to me long ago. It helps the children to balance their body – something many of them have never tried before. It also forces them to narrow their focus in order to maintain their balance. We also touch our toes (something that gets harder for me each year) and reach for the stars.
Q: How long have you been doing with your students?
A: I believe I have been doing stretches with my students for about 4 years.
Mr. Tucciarone has been teaching in Salem for 18 years, spending 3 as the computer instructor at the Jr High, 3 as an Industrial Technologist and 11 years teaching the 4th grade at Reilly. He has been teaching for 27 years total. Al has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from Youngstown State University and has been married to his wife Shelley for 33 years. We want to thank Mr. Tucciarone for his hard work and dedication to the job and continually evolving his teaching methods to better serve his students.