The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TR instructor helps students relieve stress in class

By Joshua Knopp/special assignments editor

With only 45 slots open per year, the Kellogg Institute for Developmental Education in North Carolina is one of the more exclusive continuing education options for teachers, and the only one that offers a national certification as a developmental education specialist.

TR reading instructor Christi Duque returned from the Kellogg Institute for Developmental Education with a plan to help stressed students while earning her national certification for developmental education. To begin her classes, she leads her students through meditation and breathing exercises.
Carrie Duke/The Collegian

In the institute’s 33 years of existence, only Christi Duque, TR Campus reading instructor, has been through the program from TCC.

“I had a lot of sympathy and empathy for college students,” Duque chuckled. “I was living in a dorm, which I had never done. I was going to a cafeteria. I was going to class for hours on end. I had homework. … I got a newfound respect for college students, being one all over again.”

Duque spent the month of July at the institute, earning nine credit hours. She will get her certification after she completes her practicum. The project, which she will work on throughout the school year, involves introducing stress management techniques into her classes.

“We’re researching stress right now,” she said. “Eventually, I will devise a program that will teach faculty how to integrate that into their program.”

Duque has incorporated yoga and qigong into her stress-relief exercises, and students in her classes have broken into support groups for those who need additional help. She has primarily focused, however, on deep-breathing exercises. Duque said that, on average, Americans use only about one-third of their lungs, and her breathing exercises are designed to change that habit.

“Think of a balloon. Your belly? That’s a balloon,” she said. “You’re taking a breath and squeezing everything out of it you can.”

Duque thanked her divisional dean Scott Robinson for encouraging her and TR president Tahita Fulkerson and vice president Brian Stewart for helping her acquire the money to go to North Carolina. Fulkerson said approving the funding was an easy decision.

“From the beginning, Christi has been interested in finding ways to help students relax and reach beyond where they’ve gone before,” Fulkerson said. “I was happy to support it because I know that Christi is dedicated to learning everything she can to help students succeed and I knew that the experience would be invaluable.”

Student Juan Santana said Duque offers more than just stress reduction.

“She’s pretty awesome,” he said. “She’s giving us tips on how to be a good student that other professors won’t give you.”

Duque envisions a campus and, eventually, a district in which student relaxation is a standard part of class.

“It wouldn’t even take a couple of minutes to take some deep abdominal breaths before going into the lecture,” she said. “I know that Harvard is doing some exciting things with meditation in their classrooms, so I figure if these big name schools can do it, why can’t we?”

Student Samuel Avila, who said breathing exercises were a part of his routine even before taking Duque’s class, praised Duque and hopes her work spreads beyond her class.

“This is one of the classes I look forward to the most,” Avila said. “I would hope to see some of the work she’s doing go campuswide. She’s an innovator.”

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