Mind powers: Meditation matters for special education students

Students participating in the Mindfulness Meditation program at Five Acres School in Altadena, Calif.

Students participating in the mindfulness program at Five Acres School in Altadena, CA. ____________________________________________

By Jeremy Loudenback, ChronicleforSocialChange.org

While meditation has expanded in recent years from a zen-seeker’s path to higher consciousness, to a best practice for hard-charging CEOs, it’s now gaining a foothold at a school in Southern California serving students with serious emotional and behavioral issues.

Administrators at the Five Acres School in Altadena, CA, are testing whether meditation and mindfulness can help students succeed in the classroom. A new mindfulness program implemented there in two semesters over the past year has helped pupils stay in the classroom and minimize emotional outbursts that can derail the learning process, according to administrators.

Students at Five Acres have ended up at the school because of behavioral issues that have led them to be

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Keeping trauma-informed teachers in Oakland, CA, schools

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Dr. Joyce Dorado, director of UCSF’s HEARTS program

 

by Shane Downing at ChronicleOfSocialChange.org

Last New Year’s Day, when 13-year-old Lee Weathersby III was shot and died in Oakland, CA, nearly 200 of his middle school peers and teachers received therapy.

In the Oakland Unified School District, Sandra Simmons’ job is to help coordinate that therapy on school campuses. As a behavioral health program manager for the district, Simmons oversees crisis response across the district. She has organized behavioral health training and counseling for students, teachers, staff, and administrators for the past five years.

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The Every Student Succeeds Act includes provisions for trauma-informed practices

Photo credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press _____________________________________

Photo credit: Evan Vucci, Associated Press _____________________________________

Legislation to replace the 14-year-old No Child Left Behind law—The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed by President Obama on Dec. 10—was widely praised by the administration, legislators of both parties in the House and Senate, and the organizations concerned about education policy from the NEA to the Education Trust. The consensus is that the bill is not perfect, but provides a needed recalibration of federal authority over the states in education policy while protecting the most vulnerable schools, students, and communities. If carefully implemented at all levels of government, the major goals of the legislation have the potential to improve education for all students—including those from low-income families, those with disabilities and English learners.

There are many provisions in the new law that would qualify as trauma-informed, such as those to reduce over-testing and overuse of exclusionary discipline practices, as well as those that recognize the importance of early learning. There also are notable provisions that secure a specific foothold for trauma-informed practices.

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“Resilience” an official selection of Sundance Film Festival

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He wasn’t even planning on submitting Resilience to the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, says James Redford, whose production of Paper Tigers has been screening to sold-out audiences around the U.S. this year.

But late this summer, he shuffled some papers aside on his desk, and there was the application. It was due the next day. What the heck, he thought. I’ll submit it, as I have every other film I’ve made, but I won’t tell anyone. Why get people’s hopes up…again?

Two weeks ago, he was astonished to hear that Resilience was chosen to be an official selection. This gives the documentary great visibility and considerable boost for further distribution. It also brings information about the CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACE Study, its import and how it’s being used to another large and influential group of people.

Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope looks at the birth of the CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACE Study and how it’s spawned a movement across the U.S. It focuses on the work of pediatricians, therapists, educators and communities. It features interviews with several leaders in the ACEs movement nationally and in communities, including Laura Lawrence and Laura Porter, and Drs. Robert Anda, Vincent Felitti, Nadine Burke Harris, Victor Carrion, Jack Shonkoff and David Johnson.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and a patient.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and a patient.

The ACE Study measured 10 types of childhood adversity, those that occurred before the age of 18. They are physical, verbal and sexual abuse; physical and emotional neglect; a family member with mental illness, or

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Paper Tigers celebrates Education Week with 100 screenings across the U.S.

(l to r) Kelsey, Pam Cantor, David Bornstein _______________

(l to r) Kelsey, Pam Cantor, David Bornstein _________________________

In a kickoff event for Education Week, several hundred people crowded into the fabulous Tishman Auditorium at the New School in New York City on Monday night to watch Paper Tigers, a documentary that follows six students during a school year at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, the first trauma-informed high school in the U.S.

Nearly 100 schools, colleges, universities and communities across the country are screening Paper Tigers this week.

Immediately following the New York screening, Paper Tigers director James Redford was joined in a live streamed panel discussion by Turnaround for Children founder Dr. Pamela Cantor, New York Times columnist and Solutions Journalism Network co-founder David Bornstein, and Dr. Howard Steele, professor of psychology at the New School.

A special guest joined them — Kelsey, one of the students featured in the film. She was a sophomore when the film was made. She’s now a senior, is attending community college and working part-time. She had a 4.0 grade average in her junior year.

The reason she stayed at Lincoln High School, she said, is because “I don’t feel judged there. I feel like I can be myself there. That’s still the biggest part about Lincoln. There’s such a level of acceptance, such a family atmosphere. You have people you can talk to all the time.”

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Report: Juvenile Justice System must substantively revamp treatment of girls

By Sarah Barr, JJIE.orgGenderInjustice_infographic_web_midquality

Juvenile justice reformers risk leaving girls behind if they fail to consider how traumatic experiences push girls into the system, says a new report.

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Washington, DC, forum examines trauma-informed approaches to end school-to-prison pipeline

Free Minds

A diverse group of school staff, mental health professionals, justice advocates, and city employees recently crowded the Moot Court Room at the University of the District of Columbia David E. Clark Law School to begin dismantling the school to prison pipeline.

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