Moving toward mindfulness

Published 8:05 am Monday, August 7, 2017

“Stress” is a word you will hear often as the school year approaches and gets underway.

At some point, teachers, administrators, students and staff will feel frustration, anger, being overwhelmed — stress. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

This year, we are making a push to change the climate inside our classrooms, hallways, even inside our homes. This movement is called “The ‘Be’ Project.” It was designed to arm students, teachers and staff to take a step back and be more in control of their emotional response — something called mindfulness.

We believe this really has the power to change our school district and our community. 

Growing up can be tough. We have all been there.

Not only do our children — especially middle and high school students — face physical and emotional changes as they begin the process of becoming an adult, our world is changing at a breakneck speed and that can lead to even more stress and frustration as they try to figure things out.

From social media, to fitting in and finding friends, not to mention keeping up with school work, students can become easily overwhelmed. Without the skills to do otherwise, they might express their frustrations or misunderstandings as anger. That can impact the learning environment for all our students and teachers.

That is where mindfulness comes in.

Mindfulness will teach students how to develop the skills to control emotional responses and instead focus on the present moment so they can learn. It will lift some of the burden off their shoulders and has the ability to lighten the air in a classroom. And when brains are happy, they learn better, are more curious and use higher-level thinking skills compared to distracted brains.

Research shows the benefits of mindfulness include improved social-emotional competence, improved attention and concentration and increased optimism. One could argue arming all students with the tools to better handle their response to emotions is as important as providing them with traditional academics.

In order to do this, to really make a difference in the lives of all students in Clark County, we need the help of every single employee in the school district.

On Friday, August 11, we are hosting two mindfulness training sessions and we hope that everyone — teachers, counselors, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other staff members — will join us. This needs to be a team effort so when we see a student who is struggling, we can help them better navigate through their issues with mindfulness.

Teachers and staff will also benefit from the training. Mindfulness can help people of all ages learn to better cope when frustrations arise. As teachers change the way they respond to stress, students will react positively. Students will learn how to self-regulate their behaviors and avoid conflict.

We believe this project has the power to transform the entire Winchester community.

That is why The Greater Clark Foundation awarded The ‘Be’ Project a What’s Your Ambition?! grant to implement the program. As teachers teach their students mindfulness techniques, we hope students will go home and share the techniques with their families.

I ask all Clark County Public Schools employees to attend one of two mindfulness training sessions on Aug. 11 so we can make a real difference in the lives of our students and make this upcoming school year one to remember.

The morning session will be held at George Rogers Clark High School from 9 a.m. to noon. The afternoon session will be held at Campbell Junior High from 1 to 4 p.m. Email me to RSVP at kara.davies@clark.kyschools.com or call 859-644-4415.

Kara Davies is a special education facilitator for Clark County Public Schools and is enrolled in a doctoral program at Morehead State University.