Nourishing Teachers/Strengthening Classrooms Project: 2016-17 Update

In this, the fifth year of the Nourishing Teachers/Strengthening Classrooms Project, it is most exciting to be working in direct partnership with the health and wellness efforts that have been defined by the Framingham Public Schools to include mindfulness as a valuable and valued component of the curriculum for high school students in a variety of subgroups. Under the direction, hard work, and passion of Judith Styer, the school system’s director of health and wellness, the system has provided professional development in mindfulness education for upwards of fifty FPS teachers and staff members through Massachusetts General Hospital’s Benson-Henry Program.

Our Open Spirit teachers, Eve Costarelli and Katherine McClean, are providing the in-school component, making the Benson-Henry written curriculum come alive. The students served this year are students whose first language is other than English and students in the Resiliency for Life program. The students’ teachers take part in the active lessons and learn from the modeling that the Open Spirit teachers provide.

This year, in addition to working within the Framingham Public Schools, we are bringing mindfulness, yoga, and flamenco to students in two housing developments in Framingham through a partnership with Herb Chasan’s, Hoops and Homework program.

The Framingham Public Schools received grant funding for the Benson-Henry initiative which is being supplemented by grant funds received by Open Spirit through the Massachusetts Woman’s Home Missionary Union, for the active classroom component. We are, indeed, indebted to our grantees for the funds to make these lessons possible. The hard data available in the study of a variety of populations and data being collected through our own efforts prove the value of mindfulness education for students and their teachers, as well.

Private donations made to Open Spirit’s Nourishing Teachers Project are supporting our work with Hoops and Homework students at both the Pussan Road and Second Street complexes. A fundraiser and more grants will be needed to continue to support and make these programs available to more and more at-risk students and to expand efforts to middle and elementary schools in Framingham.

Working in collaboration with both partnerships is heartwarming for us at Open Spirit. Together, we can do much to support our Framingham community.

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