Audra Cerruto, Associate Dean and Graduate Director of Education in the News

Newsday - June 19, 2019

Students Walk a 'Sensory Path' for School-day Success

By Joie Tyrrell

Balance on the blue line. Hop like a frog. Count the acorns and dance among the raindrops.

These and other creative instructions are affixed to colorful stickers on the floor of a large hallway in the William Floyd Learning Center in Shirley, where a new "sensory path" is available for students when they grow too restless or need an opportunity for a break to refocus.

It's part of the district's educational strategy to encourage students' readiness for attention and learning - whether they need to calm down or energize, educators said. For the students, it helps make the school day fun.

Second-grader Joshua Taylor, 7, hopped along the raindrop path on a recent school day. It's his favorite section of the winding, interactive path.

"It helps you calm down," he said.

Teachers say the sensory path, installed soon after the February break, is proving its worth at the elementary school, which this year enrolled 43 children in kindergarten through fifth grade who need specialized services. The district's last day of classes for the academic year is June 26.

Other school systems on Long Island, including South Huntington and Levittown, recently installed similar sensory paths. While in some cases the pathway is aimed at assisting students with special needs, educators said the learning tool has universal appeal.

"The physical and mental effects of using the path are similar to what students experience while working with an occupational or physical therapist, but the latter usually is one-on-one," said Audra Cerruto, associate dean and director of the graduate education program at Molloy College in Rockville Centre.

With this tool, a facility can "have it in a hallway and anybody can benefit from it," she noted.

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