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The Compassionate Schools Project work in Charlottesville City Elementary Schools was recently featured in the inaugural issue of Amplify, a publication from UVA’s Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Read the article to learn how this collaborative project and research study among CSC, the School of Education and Human Development, and the Medical School is poised to help children across Virginia build resilience and the personal, social, and emotional skills to reach their highest potential. The article begins on page 21.

Read “Building Compassionate Schools in Charlottesville

November 12, 2021 — Kenwood Elementary School has been named a National Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished School for 2021, the first school in Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) to ever earn the distinction and one of only 100 schools in the country recognized for the distinction this year.

The school was identified by the Kentucky Department of Education and the National Association of ESEA State Program Administrators for excellence in serving its English learner population.

“Proud doesn’t even begin to describe the feelings this recognition brings,” said Jill Handley, principal of Kenwood. “The Kenwood community has worked tirelessly over the years to refine the systems and structures we have in place to support students, families, and one another. I am humbled to lead such an amazing group of educators who are committed to doing whatever it takes for our students and their families.”

The National ESEA Distinguished Schools Program recognizes qualifying federally funded schools for the outstanding academic achievements of their students. Schools demonstrate a wide array of strengths, including team approaches to teaching and learning, focused professional development opportunities for staff, individualized programs for student · success, and strong partnerships between the school, parents, and the community.

The program, which has been in place since 1996, showcases the success of schools in one of three categories:

• Exceptional student performance (and academic growth) for two or more consecutive years;
• Closing the achievement gap between student groups for two or more consecutive years; or
• Excellence in serving special populations of students.

Handley said she attended the National ESEA Conference four years ago, and during the recognition ceremony for the National Distinguished Schools told a colleague, “We are going to be on that stage one day celebrating all of the magic that occurs at Kenwood.”

“Fast forward four years and here we are,” she said. “One of only two schools in the entire state receiving this recognition, and the only school in JCPS to have received this honor.”

Follow JCPS online online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

View the press release at the Jefferson County Public Schools website.

Book Cover

In her new book, “The Trauma-Sensitive Classroom: Building Resilience with Compassionate Teaching”, Tish Jennings helps teachers manage challenging classroom behaviors. Jennings, a leader with the Compassionate Schools Project, helps teachers embrace a new mindset in order to help students who exhibit behaviors that may have proven adaptive in their lives but turn out to be barriers to learning in the classroom.

Here are five ways to build a trauma-sensitive classroom environment according to Jennings:

  • Let Go of Zero Tolerance
  • Reframe Student Behavior
  • Generate and Savor Positive Emotions
  • Draw on the Power of Story
  • Put On Your Oxygen Mask First

Read the Articles:
How to Build a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom Where All Learners Feel Safe
Changing How Educators See Negative Experiences in the Classroom

The book: “The Trauma-Sensitive Classroom: Building Resilience with Compassionate Teaching

The Compassionate Schools Project has been chosen as a beneficiary of Mindful30, a 30 day mindfulness challenge of meditation and mindful exploration.

Join us September 1-30 by signing up now at CSP’s unique link: https://www.mindful.org/mindful30/csp/

What You’ll Get: Mindful30 gives you exclusive online access to expert guidance and inspiration delivered to you each day:

Exclusive Mindful30 Facebook Live events & community

  • Daily themes designed to help you get the most from mindfulness
  • Over 6 hours of video & audio delivered in short daily guided meditations
  • Additional readings and expert Q & A
  • Exclusive Mindful30 Facebook Live events & community
  • Plus: a 1-year subscription to Mindful magazine. Current subscribers will have their subscriptions extended one year.

 
Mindful30 will help you experience the power of daily mindfulness to:

  • Navigate stress and reduce anxiety
  • Improve your health—physical and mental
  • Sharpen your focus, performance, productivity
  • Deepen your relationships with loved ones
  • Rewire your brain with new habits for a better you

Learn More: https://www.mindful.org/mindful30/csp/

Education Week’s Blog highlighted the advice of Tish Jennings and other leading practitioners, teachers, and scholars about navigating the pitfalls of teacher stress and burnout.

“Research shows that the burnout process begins with emotional exhaustion—feeling depleted, out of emotional energy. We now know that teaching is an incredibly emotionally demanding profession and teachers receive little training on how to manage these demands. The first step in the process is to recognize the need for self-care. Like the procedure on an airplane, we must put on our own oxygen mask before helping another or we may not be able to help. Self-care involves providing a balance of for our physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs. Getting enough exercise and eating right is a good start, but we also need to tend to emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs.” — Tish Jennings, Ph.D.
More here.

Other tips:
“Have a life outside of school. When you are organized at school and go home at a reasonable hour, you have time to cultivate friendships outside of school (Edwards, 2014).” — Jenny Edwards, Ph.D.
More here.

“Being able to detach requires figuring out what you feel like when you’re starting to get stressed. Cliche, perhaps, but know the signs. Stress manifests itself with me via shortened patience, and chaotic thinking, with a severe decrease in my focus and attention. I know when these happen, I need to reframe and rethink these 10 fundamentals of my life….” — Wendi Pillars, NBCT
More here.

Full articles: “Ways to Avoid Teacher Burnout” “Response to Teacher Burnout is ‘Contagious‘”

Tish Jennings visited the Dalai Lama at his home in India for the Mind & Life Conference – Reimagining Human Flourishing. On the fifth day of the conference, Jennings presented her research to the Dalia Lama including the Compassionate Schools Project (CSP). He watched the CSP video and replied, “wonderful.”

Sunmary of the event from the Mind & Life website: Patricia Jennings spoke about observing stress among teachers. She looked into why classrooms were a source of stress and found that some teachers are emotionally exhausted. She also noticed that everyone in a classroom is confined there. The remedy in this case is CARE—Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education—a program designed to help teachers reduce stress and enliven their teaching by promoting awareness, presence, compassion, reflection, and inspiration.

She noted that most teachers start their work with a strong sense of compassion. In CARE they are taught to monitor their attention, to notice when stress starts to rise and to take steps such as watching their breath to calm down and respond more effectively. Observed results include teachers’ improved emotional regulation, improved classroom atmosphere and improved student outcomes. Jennings made the important point that in this approach teachers not only teach skills, they embody them. They are encouraged to tell their class, “I’m feeling stressed and I’m going take steps to calm down’, so they also provide a model for students to follow.

Read more here.

Louisville’s WHAS11 News spoke to CSP students, teachers, administrators, and parents about the project in a video highlighting the difference the curriculum is making in students’ lives.

“They are learning amazing things. They’re learning compassion for others and themselves. I see little miracles happening in the compassion classroom every day,” Luhr Elementary Compassionate Schools Project teacher Candace McMahon said.

“It looks different for each of the kids,” said McMahon, “but they are being empowered in ways that they didn’t know was possible for them. I feel like it has to start inside with the kids knowing that they’re worth something and that they do have some power and control over their choices. They may not have control over their environment, but they are learning that self-love and compassion for others make them feel better inside. It also helps them to become better learners and listeners and better citizens.”

“They have little control over a lot of things in their lives, but they are given opportunities to figure out who they are, identify emotions, identify triggers, and they’re learning what to do with those. It matters. I think it’s the most important piece for our kids right now to be their best selves and to grow into the person that they’re supposed to be and to be excellent members of our society. I definitely believe it could be a worldwide epidemic,” said McMahon.

Watch the video: “Compassion Curriculum Comes to Life in JCPS

WDRB News visited the “Compassion and Pastries” event in Louisville elementary school, that focused on becoming more in tune with children and how they learn.

“The students that are participating in the [Compassionate Schools] project are followed over a period of four years so that we can study the impacts of the curriculum on those student’s development,” Bloom Elementary PTA President Mollie Noe said. “We are waiting to see what the research says for the children, but overall the majority of the kids seem to love the program and are practicing mindfulness in their daily life.”

See the report: “Compassion and Pastries’ Event Held at Louisville Elementary School as part of JCPS Project

Denmark’s status as a leader in teaching social skills is one reason it’s often ranked as the world’s ‘happiest’ country. Do Danes know something the rest of us don’t?

Or do we know it too? The Christian Science Monitor cited the Compassionate Schools Project for its focus on emotional intelligence. “Empathy is very important for democracy,” says Mette Løvbjerg, Møllevang’s headmaster. “You can’t have a democracy that is functioning if nobody puts themselves in another one’s shoes…. If we don’t teach our children that, then we don’t have a democracy in 50 years..”

Read the full story: “Reading, Writing and Empathy: How Denmark is a Leader in Teaching Social Skills