Region In Review
January 29, 2021
Mindful Meditation in Elementary Schools
Exhausting, lost, and chaotic. These were the top three responses to a Washington Post survey asking for one-word descriptions for 2020. No one wants our children to see the world as exhausting, lost, and chaotic but one of the many lessons learned from this pandemic is that we cannot protect our children from all stressors. The best we can do, as parents and educators, is to teach our children skills and strategies for coping with whatever life hands us.
These thoughts were very much on the minds of Region 12 teachers and administrators as we began planning for the return to school this past fall. We wanted to build on the social-emotional learning, and coping strategies we were already providing to help our students thrive. At the elementary level, we decided to continue with our Second Step social-emotional curriculum and our class Morning Meetings. We added some pieces to our Growth Mindset curriculum to emphasize resilience. We also decided to introduce a mindful meditation practice to our routines as recent studies have shown children who practice mindful meditations in school show small but consistent gains in attention and resilience.
Mindfulness, mindful meditation, and meditation are often used interchangeably but we wanted to be clear and deliberate about our teaching and our intent. Mindfulness describes living in the moment and focusing on your current experience nonjudgmentally, rather than reflecting on the past or anticipating the future. Meditation covers a wide range of practices involving taking charge of the mind. Mindful meditation is the secular practice of focusing on your breath and/or your five senses in the current moment.
As part of the back-to-school preparations, kindergarten through fifth grade teachers were provided training on teaching mindful meditation practices to children. Classroom teachers were also provided materials to: introduce the concept of mindful meditation to students (the “what”); share the benefits of the practice (the “why”); and teach the body basics and mindset (the “how”). Once the teaching phase was over, teachers were asked to regularly include a mindful meditation practice into classroom routines.
A November survey of Burnham School, Booth Free School, and Washington Primary School teachers revealed that all elementary classes were engaging in a mindful meditation practice at least twice a week; and 23% were engaging in the practice daily. Teachers report the practice has been valuable to their students, and 92% of kindergarten through fifth grade teachers report they regularly see students using mindful meditation practices to self-regulate in the classroom. Fourth grade teacher, Kelly White, is finding, “Mindful meditation is helping my students re-focus and be ready for the next activity.”
As we have entered a new calendar year and as COVID-19 vaccinations are becoming available, we hope that “exhausting, lost, and chaotic” are not the words of 2021. But, as Thich Nhat Hahn reminds us, “The present moment is the only moment over which we have dominion”. So, for now, we take comfort knowing our Region 12 students have some new skills to handle whatever challenges come their way. If you’re feeling stressed today, ask your child to show you his or her favorite mindful meditation technique.
2021 Shepaug Valley School Scholastic Art Awards Winners
by Ava Spencer
by Cade Sivick
January 20, 2021
On Inauguration Day the newly elected leaders' voices echoed throughout the halls as several classrooms tuned their smartboards to the television to watch the historic events unfold.
Giddyap, Rio Maverick!
After assembling the new Equicizer mechanical horse trainer, agriscience students tested out the device. Designed to simulate real horse movement, the horse gives riders the opportunity to safely work on their body positioning and coordination.
Senior Project Spotlight
Evan Carlson - Shoes for Food
Evan is continuing his work with Camella's Cupboard, a food charity in New Milford. To raise funds for this important local organization, Evan is partnering with GotSneakers, an organization that converts recycled shoes into cash. All proceeds will help feed needy families in our area. Evan has collected approximately 50 pairs of shoes so far (in the bin in the front vestibule) and is hoping to triple that number by the end of the shoe drive in January. If you have shoes to donate, contact Evan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preventing Heart Disease
The heart is a muscle that pumps oxygen rich blood throughout the body, and returns oxygen poor blood to the lungs. It is here that carbon dioxide is exchanged for oxygen. The heart is located in the center of one’s chest: beneath the rib cage, between the lungs, and above the diaphragm.
A healthy heart is the approximate size of a closed fist. Our heart is important to living a healthy lifestyle. Although some risk factors, such as family history, sex and age cannot be changed; other strategies to prevent heart disease can be followed. Awareness, education and research are important factors to help prevent heart disease.
Medical conditions such as high cholesterol and blood pressure, along with diabetes and obesity need to be monitored and medically treated to maintain not only a healthy heart but a healthy body. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease. Cardiovascular Disease is the number one cause of death in females. Therefore, it is important to choose healthy strategies to protect the heart.
- Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels, which decreases the oxygen in the blood. This causes increases in blood pressure and heart rate.
- Maintain a healthy weight through daily physical activity at least 30 minutes a day.
- Manage stress through relaxation and physical activity. Think about bringing a pet into your home. Studies show that pets may help to increase fitness levels, decrease stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and improve wellbeing along with social support.
- Consume heart-healthy foods daily such as vegetables and fruits (high in fiber), beans, nuts and legumes, lean meats/fish, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. Limit salt, sugar, processed foods, alcohol, saturated fats (whole dairy, red meats), and trans fats (baked goods, fried and fast foods).
- Get restful sleep, at least seven hours a night. Lack of adequate sleep can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression.
- See a physician for yearly health examinations to prevent or treat medical conditions.
- Maintaining a daily healthy lifestyle will help your heart to work efficiently for you and allow physical and emotional enjoyment.
Edith M. Poidomani, RN, MS, NBCSN
Shepaug Valley School Nurse
K-12 Contact Tracing Supports
Substitute Teaching Positions
Does your schedule allow time to join our team?
Region 12 is hiring teacher and para substitutes for all schools. We welcome and encourage parents and community members to apply. Click here to begin your application.
Fliers & Upcoming Events
Region 12 Calendar
February 1 - BOE / Long Range Planning Committee Meeting - Zoom, 5:30pm
February 1 - Board of Education Meeting - Zoom, 7pm
February 4 - Burnham PTO Meeting, 6pm
February 8 - Building Committee Meeting - Zoom 10am
February 8 - BOE / Finance & Operations Committee Meeting - Zoom, 5:30pm
February 9 - WPS PTO Meeting, 6:30pm
Follow Region 12 on our social media channels for updates and information!
The Region 12 community educates, challenges, and inspires all learners to become compassionate, creative, and courageous individuals who are empowered by the knowledge, character, and perseverance to achieve their greatest potential within the global society.