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DHS Students Learn ‘Mindfulness,’ Share It with Other Students

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DHS Students Learn ‘Mindfulness,’ Share It with Other Students
Posted on 01/25/2016
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The Alternative Education class at Deering High School has been learning Mindfulness training as part of a generous Portland Education Foundation (PEF) grant. The DHS students also are sharing what they’ve learned with elementary and middle school students in the district.

“Our culminating event is to Take Action by sharing our knowledge with younger students,” said DHS teacher Tracey Menard.

The students presented a lesson to students at Longfellow Elementary School on Jan. 14 and plan to do the same with Lincoln Middle School students on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

The PEF grant paid for a certified Mindful Schools instructor, Erica Marcus, to come to DHS and deliver curriculum for a period of weeks.

What is Mindfulness?

“Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with kindness and curiosity,” Marcus explained. “We can train ourselves to be mindful by intentionally putting our attention on some aspect of our present experience – like breath, body, or sound – and practice bringing it back there when the mind wanders. Research shows these brain exercises help with focus, emotional regulation, and empathy.”

Marcus said she surveyed the students who took the course and 85 percent said they enjoyed the learning and found it useful.

One student taking the survey reported using it to deal with emotions. “Whether I’m stressed out, angry, sad, happy, I use this technique to slow myself down and pinpoint tranquility in me,” Marcus quoted the 12th-grader as saying.

She said the DHS students decided which Mindfulness exercises “they found most powerful and thought would resonate best with younger students.” They then worked with her to create scripts. “Finally,” she said, “one group delivered a fifteen-minute lesson in a third-grade classroom at Longfellow Elementary and two groups will present to Lincoln Middle School classrooms on Tuesday.”

PEF is an independent nonprofit organization that is officially aligned with the Portland Public Schools and is committed to raising philanthropic support to enhance education in the city’s public schools.

Longfellow Mindfulness Mindfulness DHS student