Ribbon cutting held for new sensory paths at MES

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – Students took turns showing a large group of adult visitors how they navigate Montevallo Elementary School’s new Indoor Sensory Path on the morning of Oct. 2, receiving compliments like “Good job!” as they finished.

The lively demonstration kicked off a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the school’s Indoor Sensory Path and Outdoor Sensory Cove, two additions made possible by a $10,000 donation from State Rep. Matt Fridy last year.

“I feel like we’ve been talking and planning for a long time to get to this point,” MES Principal Dr. Allison Campbell said. “We’re super excited. To be able to work for a district like Shelby County is truly a blessing.”

The sensory areas are designed to allow students to engage in what administrators describe as “social and emotional learning” by exploring their environments through colors, textures, sounds and motor skill activities—and resetting their minds with “brain breaks.”

Montevallo Elementary School hosted a ribbon cutting for its new indoor and outdoor sensory areas funded by a donation from State Rep. Matt Fridy in 2018. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

“About a year-and-a-half ago, we started on this journey of how we meet the needs of our kids,” Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks said. “I’m very blessed to have a staff of folks across the county who have looked at social and emotional learning. As you can see, this is an opportunity for them to dig into their senses, their emotions. It’s a fun way to do that; it’s colorful, it’s exciting.”

Special Education teacher Dora Newell said students utilize both areas daily.

“We’ve seen a lot of benefits already from both areas,” Newell said.

Fridy said the Legislature designates funds for community grants from time to time, and when funds became available last year, he asked Brooks and Campbell for ideas about what could be done.

“I’m excited to be a part of it,” Fridy said of the project. “It’s absolutely amazing. It’s far beyond what I anticipated it would be.”

Others who were instrumental in the project include: Special Education teachers Meka Smith and Mary Sharman; paraprofessional Rebecca Oden and Paul Oden; Brent Baugh and Wayne Davis Construction; Casie Tate and Montevallo Makers; Lori Preece; Shane Baugh and the City of Montevallo; Ashton Cottingham and MHS Agri-Science; Chris Adams; Coty Jones and the University of Montevallo; Alison Baggett and The Art Studio; John Pate; Marvin’s Building Supply; MHS Baseball Team; Packey Smith; Mickey Hamrick; G&H Building Supply; and Holly Chandler.