Skip To Main Content

MHS Senior Builds Sensory Room at Heritage Trails

MHS Senior Builds Sensory Room at Heritage Trails
  • Elementary
Anna Aguilar

Heritage Trails Elementary students have a new place to destress thanks to MHS Senior Katherine Stockstill.

By Kolby Terrell with KOCO5

A Moore High School senior's Gold Star Girl Scout project has provided special needs students at a local elementary school with a sensory room to decompress.

"The root cause of my issue was the lack of sensory spaces in public education schools," said Katherine Stockstill, a senior at Moore High School.

Stockstill noticed that special needs students in her school district didn't have a place to escape when overwhelmed. 

"Sensory rooms can be used for a variety of needs," she said. "We can't always meet every single one of their sensory needs in a classroom setting. Sometimes, the kids just need a minute to be pulled out."

For her Girl Scouts Gold Star project, Stockstill decided to create a sensory-friendly room. 

Heather Grivé, the principal of Heritage Trails Elementary School in Moore, said this was something they'd been needing for a while. 

"Ironically, while she was searching, I was searching," Grivé said.

Stockstill filled an open classroom at Heritage Trails with all sorts of sensory equipment, including light covers. 

"They're called light covers. Fluorescent lights are often kind of harsh and really dysregulating," she said.

Grivé told KOCO 5 that the sensory toys, books and crash pad in the room are already making a difference.

"I've actually personally brought a child in here myself, and that student loved the little tunnel," Grivé said. "We got to roll him around in it and he took five minutes to calm down, and it normally takes 30."

Seeing the impact of her project has been rewarding for Stockstill. 

"When I got sent those photos and saw that it was being used almost every single day, sometimes multiple times a day," she said. "I think that's when I really realized this was such, this was doing something."

The 18-year-old is set to graduate from Moore High School on Monday. She plans to attend Southern Methodist University in the fall to become a teacher.

Story and photos by Kyle Phillips with The Transcript

Students at Heritage Trails Elementary School in Moore have a new place to destress thanks to fellow student Katherine Stockstill.

Stockstill, a senior at Moore High School, built a sensory room for the special education students at the school as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest and most prestigious award in Girl Scouting.

"My mom has been a special education teacher since I was eight or nine," Stockstill said. "I have been around the special education community pretty much my entire life."

And that exposure led her to find her passion, working with special needs students to further their education and help them feel safe and accepted.

"From a very young age I think I have had a unique exposure to non-typically developing children," Stockstill said. "I think I have learned to accept people's differences and not see them as different. I think from a very young age, being around them and learning they are just like you; they want the same thing that you do, you just have to recognize the differences in communication."

To earn her Gold Award, Stockstill knew she wanted to do something for the special education students, and after seeing a need, Stockstill decided on the sensory room.

"I got the opportunity to pick a project that I am passionate about," Stockstill said. "A really big thing for the Gold Award is finding something you are passionate about, and I knew Moore Public Schools had the want and the need for these types of spaces for their schools."

For the project, Stockstill needed about $1,600, which she raised by crowdsourcing, and some help to get it done. When she was put in touch with Heritage Trails Elementary School principal Heather Grivé, they both knew they found a need to fill.

"It does a lot," Grivé said. "What we were noticing is kids were escalating and we were needing a place to de-escalate them. So far, for the kids that have been coming, they have loved it."

The project required Stockstill to have identifiable and measurable goals, so she got to work.

"The goals I set, besides building the room, were making a space that would have workshops that would serve 75 teachers," Stockstill said. "And I have created social media platform that to create awareness and has resources."

Grivé said the room was something she always wanted at the school, she just wants sure how to make it happen. When she met Stockstill, she knew she found the person who could help.

"I didn't even know where to begin," Grivé said. "I needed someone who knew where do we begin with this. The groundwork that she has laid will be so great for any other school that wants to follow in her footsteps and add this to their program. It would be very simple for them to do."

And Grivé hopes that the room is just the beginning of what they can do for students at the school.

"We already have plans for more stuff," Grivé said. "We want to create a hallway down by where our special education teachers are. We see expanding it a little bit that way."

Stockstill is already encouraged by the use the room is getting.

"It feels awesome because getting to see the project in action and seeing the signup sheet and there were kids on it," Stockstill said.

It is already being used and they have had it for two days, so it is definitely a sense of accomplishment.

- Katherine Stockstill

And that sense of accomplishment is what is driving her to her future.

"I have fallen in love with it," Stockstill said. "It's what I want to do. I want to be a special education teacher and eventually hopefully become a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA)."

Fully motivated, Stockstill is well on her way to making that happen.

"Going into college next year and getting to pursue a degree in a field I want," Stockstill said. "And seeing that I am already taking steps and there's people that are already willing to support me after the actions I have taken will be really beneficial as I step into this new area of life."

Grivé agrees that with the work that Stockstill is putting in, she has a bright future ahead of her.

"I will say when she did her presentation, a lot of my teachers were asking about her," Grivé said. "They were like, 'Can we hire her?' They were so impressed with the way she articulates and everything. So we are working on what we can do for her.

"For here, her future is set. When she is ready for a job she will have one whether it is with me or some other person in the district."

  • Gold Award
  • Heritage Trails
  • MHS