Teachers Attend Mindfulness Conference

by Kayla Leed | Brevard, NC

Recently, Mountain Sun Community School (MSCS) teachers attended a conference entitled “More Than Mindfulness: Exploring Education as a Sacred Art,” at Rainbow Community School, a pre-K through eighth-grade school in West Asheville.

More than 50 local and regional educators, mental health professionals, counselors, parents, alumni and administrators gathered for the inaugural teaching conference.

Rainbow Community School’s event coordinator and curriculum coordinator West Willmore, along with the school’s executive director, Renee Owen, welcomed the group of educators. The conference attendees were led in a centering and mindfulness exercise by the eighth graders. This exercise was opened with the sound of a singing bowl and deep breathing. They invited participants to kindly greet their neighbors.

Attendees, including MSCS teachers, were broken into groups and had the opportunity to observe classes from preschool to middle school. After they spent time observing the classrooms, attendees met for a 25-minute debriefing. During the second half of the conference, attendees were able to attend workshops that taught tools for teaching mindfulness and secular spirituality.

Increasingly, studies show that using mindfulness practices in schools can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical well-being of children and adolescents. Practices such as concentrating on breathing and calming the body can contribute to the development of vital cognitive skills, including executive function, concentration, memory and reasoning.

Centering practices and mindfulness techniques are important parts of the curriculum at Mountain Sun, and this conference provided important professional development for teachers.

“The conference was informative and well done. I learned how I can integrate mindfulness into each of my classes and across all grade levels. I left with tools that I am now incorporating into the curriculum,” said Kim Skeen, art and outdoor education teacher.

Mountain Sun teachers saw many parallels with the work they do with their students each day and discovered new practices to incorporate into their classrooms.

“I immediately came back to our school feeling blessed to have been a part of such an inspiring day. I participated in the mindfulness in nature and mindfulness through movement workshops. I have introduced new centering practices in my classroom and was encouraged to take time for myself (even in small amounts) to ensure that I can be a mindful mother, wife, teacher, daughter, and friend,” said Annie Burgess, lead primary teacher.

(Mountain Sun Community School is an independent, nonprofit school serving preschool through middle school and utilizes Montessori and other methods to provide a unique, inspired education for each child. Mountain Sun Community School is currently enrolling students for the 2016-17 academic year. For more information, call (828) 885-2555.)

(Reed is the communications and sponsorship coordinator at Mountain Sun Community School.)

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