It is a pleasure to e-meet you! Congratulations on your work; it is incredible and much needed in this world.
I am the founding principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy (MHBA), a middle school located in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. This community has the highest rate of poverty, crime, and high school drop out rates. Although we are located in one of the richest cities in the world, the average annual income in this community is $11,000 within the densely populated housing development. This community also lacks resources, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, along with mental health services to deal with the impact of poverty and post traumatic stress disorders.
I teach mindfulness and communication around the country to adults, educators, therapists, and healthcare practitioners. A main part of my work is as Senior Program Developer for Mindful Schools, where we train educators in mindfulness for their own well-being and to share those tools with their students as a foundational life-skill. I started working here in 2008, when we were a small program of local charter schools. In those days I was going into schools in the inner-city in Oakland, teaching mindfulness to children and kids grades K-10.
It was a wonderful experience for me, connecting with the children and their classroom teachers two or three times a week. Part of what was so rewarding was how much the teachers themselves benefited from the short periods of mindfulness practice! Many would regularly thank me for creating the space in their classroom for a few moments of stillness in which they could let their nervous system relax and settle. The students also remarked on how much they enjoyed when the room got “still and quiet” during our mindfulness practice. Some of the little ones would say the most amazing things: “I could hear the wind… I felt like I was a leaf floating outside… I could hear myself breathing…”