Workplace stress causes about one million American employees to miss work every single day. To combat this, one school principal came up with an interesting idea to help her teachers release some stress. Kensington Parkwood Elementary School Principal Barbara Leiss decided to give teachers a chance to destroy old furniture behind the school.
Unfortunately for her, the so-called “smash space” did not bode well with many parents.
The idea was simple: teachers could go to the back of the building near the garbage loading dock and take out their frustrations on old furniture. Right in front of this smash space lay a few wooden and metal bats and a sign that exclaimed, “Enjoy the SMASH!”
There were a few ground rules. All teachers and staff had to wear safety goggles and closed-toe shoes, only one person could smash at a time, the observers had to stand back, and when all the frustrations were erased, the smasher had to put things back how they found them.
Inspired by an article she read in the New York Times, Principal Leiss decided to set up the smash space as a harmless stress reliever that wasn’t meant to be taken too seriously. And even though furniture is usually the third most expensive thing a person will ever buy, after a house and a car, it can without a doubt be quite fun to destroy.
However, parents weren’t thrilled with the idea of violence being anywhere near their children’s classrooms.
Calling into the PTA’s listserv, parents said that the smash room was outlandish and hard to believe, according to reports on WUSA9. A number of calls caused the PTA to look into the smashing space, which was far away from the eyes and ears of any impressionable young students. Coming under fire nonetheless, Leiss had to send home a letter to parents explaining that while her intentions were good, her execution was off.
“I absolutely regret my decision to provide staff with an opportunity to ‘smash’ the rocking chair. This decision was not in response to any teacher comment or behavior, rather a misguided attempt by me to provide staff with an outlet,” she wrote. “Our staff is committed to modeling for students and one another productive and appropriate ways for handling stress. I recognize that while well-intended, this scenario is counter to what we teach students and has no place in a school.”
As of the time of publication, the smash room has been removed from the school and the Montgomery County Public School District is looking more into the incident.