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My True SELF Kicks Off 2022/23 With Nourishing Roots

Posted September 23, 2022 in News Articles

Author: Kami Lerma, True Body Program Manager

(Note - click on the above images to scroll through.)

This school year has gotten off to a great start at Imagine Bella Academy of Excellence for the My True SELF (Social Emotional Learning Fun) team. Shallanna Davis, Lead Mindfulness Educator, and LaToya Kent, Mindful Classroom Assistant, have settled into the environment well and are already making huge strides in supporting the school with mindfulness and SEL integration in their classroom and as a partner to all within the school culture.

A major focus has been on making connections and establishing practices that integrate the programming into the school culture in a way that supports both the students and the educators who work with them. 

We have taken all that we learned through our partnership in the 2021/22  school year and the foundation built by educator/collaborator Kara Pierson to fully personalize the program to better fit the Bella culture and needs of students and staff.

Starting out the year, our team has. . . 

  • Provided a foundational professional development training for all staff members which gave an overview of the My True SELF curriculum and the science behind it. This will allow for a more cohesive integration of the principles throughout the school. 
  • Set up the My True SELF classroom to be a calm, welcoming environment that supports the wellness of students and staff members including two calm corners - one for students and another for adults. 
  • Made explicit the SEL language of the My True SELF curriculum (based on the CASEL framework) by displaying posters in classrooms and common areas with “I AM” and “I can” statements in words that are easily understood and easily spoken by the students. 
  • Surveyed staff members to gauge the need for additional support for educator wellness and provided school administrators with the results.

Our full-time Mindful Educators have. . . 

  • Established rituals and routines in the My True SELF / Mindfulness Classroom that integrate mindful wellness practices into the students day, readying them for learning throughout the school. 
  • Integrated and modeled mindful/SEL learning practices into enrichment time and in Closing the Gap lessons in other classrooms and throughout the school. Identified and held small Student Wellness Groups for students that could benefit from Tier 2 PBIS/SEL support. 
  • Made viable connections with the PBIS team as well as the school therapists. Provided a mindful wellness activity for staff member engagement during Wednesday morning huddles. 

Student/Staff Quotes & Stories

  • "I feel like mindfulness is my home." - Jenai 
  • "The team at The Well partnered with Imagine Bella Academy of Excellence has offered an environment of support and openness. There are so many moving parts -- all working in congruency to spark change and dare to provoke the question: Can we be the change we want to see?" - Shallanna Davis, Lead Mindfulness Educator 
  • On one particular day, a student was having a particularly rough day. He quietly moved himself to the center of the rug, and he began to meditate. Without interruption or prompting, several of his classmates joined him in meditation. This story exemplifies the SEL competencies of connection and engagement. The students were given the environmental support and the agency to take care of their personal needs in the moment, and they used that capacity to their benefit.

This project is in its second year with support from Imagine Bella, The Cleveland Orchestra and the Ohio Arts Council.

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