Strand L

Mindfulness-based Teaching and Learning: Multi-tiered Prevention for All

Marilyn Webb Neagley, Sonia Cassani, Jody Smith, Nancy Spencer, and Anthony Quintiliani


Current neuroscience research indicates that mindfulness-based practices can improve stress reduction, emotional regulation, focused attention and greater empathy or kindness - all helpful for teaching and learning.  Presented as a foundation for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), this strand begins with self-care for the teacher or other adult members of an educational system and addresses ways of involving the community.  The strand also includes inspiring classroom applications for the various grade levels and concludes with mindfulness as a prevention and wellness model.  Current research and resources will be provided.  The following sessions will be highly interactive with a limited lecture format:

Day 1: Mindful Practices-and Self Care (beginning with the teacher, counselor, administrator, parent, etc.) This first session will begin as a retreat-styled session introducing formal and informal mindfulness practices and the importance of self-care and self-calming.  It will also cover definitions of mindfulness and current mindfulness research.

Day 2: Mindfulness and Adolescents (Grades 6-12 classroom applications and data on project completions/plps/journal entries)

Day 3: Mindfulness in Elementary Classrooms/Family Applications (Grades PreK-5) Beginning assessment/ introduction of mindfulness over first six weeks, end of year assessment.

Day 4: Mindfulness, Presence and Connection; a prevention model.  Progress monitoring will be covered.

Participants will receive a copy of the books, Educating from the Heart and a copy of Mindfulness in Public Education: Building Wellness and Resilience in our Children.


  • Mindfulness/SEL Resources (doc)
  • Outline for the Week (docx)
  • Can Mindfulness Make Us Better Teachers? (web)
  • Kind Kids Lead to Healthier Communities (web)
  • Bios:

    Marilyn Webb Neagley

    Marilyn Webb Neagley is the director of Talk About Wellness, a Vermont based initiative that partners with public schools to deepen and support the inner lives of children. She, with Aostre N. Johnson, is the co-editor of Educating from the Heart (2011), a compilation of essays by educators. She is a co-coordinator of the South Burlington School District’s new training manual, Mindfulness in Public Schools (2013), author of Loosie B. Goosie (2013) and Walking through the Seasons (2008).  Marilyn was the president of Shelburne Farms during its formative years.


    Sonia Cassani, R.N., M.Ed., CYT Sonia Cassani, R.N., M.Ed, CYT, is an instructor in the Wellness and Resilience Program for teachers in the South Burlington School District. Her contributions to the district’s new Mindfulness in Public Schools manual include the Mindful Movement and Mindful Breathing sections and lessons in the Teens and Adults section.  Other professional experiences:  teaching stress reduction courses at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VT, teaching Kripalu yoga, producing a CD, Mindful Expressions Through Gentle Movement, and presenting at many conferences in Vermont, including the Governor’s Prevention Conference. 

    Jody Smith, M.Ed.

    Jody Smith, M.Ed., is a veteran primary teacher, currently teaching an all day kindergarten in South Burlington, Vermont.  She has taught preschool, kindergarten, first and second grades in public schools for 30 years.  She was trained in mindfulness and inner resilience through the South Burlington School District’s Wellness and Resilience Program and has developed creative ways of bringing mindfulness into the classroom. Jody enjoys the meditative quality of horseback riding and while she cannot take her class out on the riding trails, she brings mindfulness into the lives of her students each day.

    Nancy SpencerNancy Spencer, is a recently retired middle school science teacher having been at Harwood Union Middle School for 30 years. Her goal in teaching science is to provide students with opportunities to develop abilities in the area of scientific inquiry and to stimulate students’ natural curiosity and appreciation of the natural world. She is interested in developing pedagogy that incorporates mindfulness and contemplative practices in the classroom. Nancy has an evolving practice that helps students know themselves more deeply, develop personal and academic aspirations and engage constructively with others.

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    Anthony R. Quintiliani, Ph.D.is the author of Mindful Happiness (2014) has published articles and handbooks in both clinical psychology and education and was a contributor to the South Burlington School District’s manual: Mindfulness in Public Schools. In his thirty-five years of professional experience, he has also served in public education, higher education, and various clinical consulting roles. Dr. Quintiliani is considered an expert in psychological and organizational aspects of co-occurring disorders and mindfulness implementation systems.