A person runningBEST/MTSS Summer Institute 2017

Strand M

Bringing Mindfulness to Schools - Pathways to Social and Academic Success

Marilyn Webb Neagley, Sonia Cassani, Jody Smith, Jeff Rettew, and Carol Wheeler


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 families and the community.  The strand concludes with inspiring classroom applications for the various grade levels and addresses mindfulness as a prevention and wellness model. 
Research and resource materials will be provided.  Strand sessions will be highly interactive with a limited lecture format.  (Note: Research by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional learning (CASEL) indicates that an 11% improvement in academic performance can be measured when SEL is combined with academic learning.)

Strand sessions will include:

1: Mindful Practices-and Self Care (beginning with the teacher, counselor, administrator, parent, etc.). This first day 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.

2: Mindfulness as part of a comprehensive wellness promotion program. The University of Vermont Wellness Environment program, a neuroscience-inspired health promotion model for adolescents with a focus on the transitional-age brain (18-25). Mindfulness as a core pillar of building healthy brains in college students and for life. Progress monitoring will also be covered.

3: Mindfulness interventions presented by a Pre K -12 School Counselor; also how to involve families and the community and grow mindfulness within a school district. Mindfulness-based resources will be shared. Progress monitoring will be covered.

4: Mindfulness in Elementary Classrooms/Family Applications (Grades PreK-5). A power point presentation will show how to combine mindfulness with academic, social, and emotional learning. Many children’s’ books, hands-on materials, and C.D.s will be shared. Creating “peaceful places” in the classroom will also be covered.

Who Should Attend:

Anyone is welcome!




Marilyn Webb Neagley

Marilyn Webb Neagley
Director, Talk About Wellness; mindfulness instructor/presenter
Co-coordinator of Mindfulness in Public Schools manual
Co-editor of Educating from the Heart.
Mindfulness-based Learning and Teaching course coordinator marilynneagley@gmail.com  



Sonia Cassani, R.N., M.Ed., CYTSonia Cassani, R.N, M.Ed., CYT Health Educator; School Nurse (ret’d) Certified yoga instructor; teaches mindful movement; South Burlington School District Lead Mindfulness Educator; Contributor to Mindfulness in Public Schools manual.  sonnycassani@hotmail.com   



Jody Smith, M.Ed. Jody Smith, M.Ed. Kindergarten teacher, South Burlington School District, 31 years, Retired 2015. Teacher of the Year 2012, South Burlington School District.  M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction, University of Vermont.  Mindfulness co-presenter, Lesley University (MA), Saint Michael’s College, and Best Institute.  She has also worked with the Williamstown School, Orange Central School, and South Burlington Schools.  Horseloverjody@gmail.com 

Jeff RettewJeff G. Rettew, Ph.D. Associate Director of the Wellness Environment (WE) at the University of Vermont where he facilitates the implementation and development of the 4 wellness pillars (mindfulness, fitness, nutrition, and mentorship). Jeff has studied and practiced mindfulness during his doctoral training in counseling psychology, and continues this work with the WE students. A mental health counselor, career counselor, and educator, Dr. Rettew is also a member of Therapy Dogs of Vermont along with his golden retriever, Tucker. Jeffrey.Rettew@uvm.edu

Cqrol WheelerCarol Wheeler,  B.S., M.Ed., C.A.S., NBCT
National Board Certified School Counselor
(35 years in the field, serving college, high school and elementary school levels.)
South Burlington (VT) School District Mindfulness Planning Team
Developed “Mini Mindful Moments”; Demonstrates mindfulness-based classroom interventions.