“New News” from The Hawn Foundation

MindUP in China

Hawn Foundation training team, including Molly Lawlor of the University of British Columbia, who has worked with the Foundation since 2005, traveled to Hong Kong, China for a series of workshops and presentations. Justine Roche, Director of Hong Kong/Asia for The Hawn Foundation, orchestrated the trip and introduced our USA team to key educational leaders of the city. John Shanahan, child psychologist and Hong Kong resident, also assisted our team by providing invaluable information about the educational context of Hong Kong and the schools with which he works. Our five days in Hong Kong were packed with MindUP workshops, parent presentations, and even a little sightseeing. The team conducted separate on-site school workshops for about 100 teachers and administrators at Singapore International School and Beacon Hill School. Teachers from a third school, Carmel School Association, also had teachers trained in MindUP at the MindUP Regional workshop on October 11th and will implement the program this year. Hosted by the English Schools Foundation (www.esf.edu.hk), the MindUP Regional Workshop on October 11th generated tremendous excitement among the 75 participants as they discovered how to implement MindUP in the classroom and experience first-hand the MindUP curriculum through interactive learning, how to integrate the principles and concepts of MindUP into what teachers are already doing in the classroom, and how to evaluate the efficacy of the program. The team also had a wonderful opportunity to present MindUP to about 100 parents in two evening presentations, at which the burning question was “How can we get this into our children’s schools?” All in all, The Hawn Foundation’s first foray into Asia was an overwhelming success.


Youth Dimensions

On August 6th and 7th, Drs. Jill Jakulski and Marc Meyer conducted a MindUP Workshop for 30 staff members of Youth Dimensions, Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee. Under the direction of Roderick Scott, Youth Dimensions boys from 11 to 17 years of age who have not successfully responded to less intensive interventions or have been denied admission or discharged from less intensive placements because of their emotional or behavioral problems. Director Rod Scott viewed MindUP as a critical piece in the puzzle to help return difficult-to-place youth back into the community, with emphasis on the family system and family reunification. With our multidisciplinary team, there is a seamless integration of our youth back into the community. Staff and teachers were trained in MindUP techniques to help develop emotion regulation, self-awareness, and optimism. Participants were especially excited to hear about how MindUP is anchored in neuroscience and that it helped young people develop a more mindful attitude toward life. Since the boys at Youth Dimensions also attend classes at the facility, teachers were thrilled to learn more about how they can engage students more fully in regular classroom activities through brain-based learning and teaching strategies.

Los Angeles Children’s Hospital

The Hawn Foundation conducted a MindUP Workshop on August 13th at the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, one of the nation’s leading pediatric care facilities. A dozen staffers from the Child Life Division participated in the daylong training. Child Life Specialists encourage patients to communicate their feelings and help them understand their illnesses and treatments and are trained to provide educational and therapeutic interventions to children and families who are under stress. Having MindUP’s tools assist the staff with preparing children and their families for the difficulties that they endure was found to be invaluable. Having coping mechanisms that can be translated to help alleviate their stress, discomfort, anxieties and fears, and most importantly, to keep their outlook positive – will be a priceless asset for hospital staff, according to Maureen Girouard, Senior Associate Director of Development. In a classroom setting, what children will take away from MindUp will certainly help them through life. What the children could take away from MindUp in a clinical setting could help them heal.

Jackson, New Hampshire

On August 20th Dr. Marc Meyer worked with a small staff of teachers and administrators from Jackson Grammar School, a public elementary school in Jackson, New Hampshire. Jackson is a small wealthy town in the Mt. Washington Valley comprised mainly of professionals and retired people. The majority of the other towns in the valley are middle to lower income and Jackson prides itself on its small size and upper middle class status. The JGS staff spent the previous year researching and discussing how best to support their students in nonacademic ways and decided that MindUP as something the school needed and which would be beneficial for all. The all-day MindUP workshop involved providing the teachers with an in-depth understanding of the program’s foundations and pedagogical underpinnings as well as giving them an opportunity to experience MindUP Lessons. JGS students come with high expectations from themselves and from their homes. They are involved in after-school activities almost everyday, which include sports, foreign languages, music lessons, and the like. As you could guess, we have many students with anxiety and perfectionism. School leaders contacted The Hawn Foundation because they wanted to offer their students an opportunity to manage their stress and develop self-awareness and better social skills as well as develop a sense of the broader community and empathy for those who are less fortunate.

Pershing East Magnet School in Chicago

Through the generosity of the Perlman Family Foundation, The Hawn Foundation has now implemented The MindUP Curriculum in three Chicago public schools as a part of a pilot program to disseminate MindUP in Chicago. Sauganash Elementary School, Pershing West Middle School, and now Pershing East Magnet School were chosen to participate in the program. At Pershing East, Principal Antonia Hill and her staff of teachers joined Rebecca Calos, The Hawn Foundation’s Director of Programs and Training, at a MindUP workshop held on August 28th. Dr. Hill was initially attracted to MindUP because it provides children with emotional and cognitive tools to help them manage emotions and behaviors, reduce stress, sharpen concentration, and increase empathy and optimism.

MindUP and the “Changing the Odds” Conference, Dallas, Texas

On September 21st and 22nd The Salesmanship Club of Dallas, Texas through its Youth and Family Centers, sponsored the first annual “Changing the Odds” conference for educators, clinical psychologists and child advocates. The conference was preceded by a “friendraiser” event at which Goldie Hawn described her foundation’s MindUP curriculum that has been used with great success for two years at the J. Erik Jonsson Community School, one of the charitable organizations funded by the Salesmanship Club. Goldie spoke passionately to over 100 Club members and special guests about her vision to help create a world in which children would find happiness through optimism and resiliency. On Friday, Goldie kicked off the conference with neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel Siegel. The rest of the day, a team of neuroscientists, nationally acclaimed educators, and social emotional learning experts—including Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl and Mary Helen Immordino-Yang—gave over 550 professionals from the Dallas/Fort Worth area and beyond the tools to implement social emotional learning in their classrooms and therapeutic offices. Speakers also presented the research that shows, among other things, that social emotional skills are more predictive of high school academic achievement than even elementary school grades. On Saturday, the J. Erik Jonsson Community School hosted a MindUP Workshop. Led by Heather Bryant, Jonsson School Associate Director and Becky Calos, THF’s Director of Training and Programs, Hawn Foundation trainers and educators guided participants through an experiential day, familiarizing them with the MindUP curriculum and teaching how to implement MindUP in a classroom and school setting. Over 100 teachers and school administrators attended this workshop, who had the delightful opportunity to visit classrooms in which children were engaged in actual MindUP Lessons and where then treated to a moving choral presentation by children of a MindUP song written by Jonsson School performing arts teacher, Kevin Roberts. To listen to this wonderful music, access: http://brainchildblog.com/category/bygrade/music/.

MindUP and CARE at the Omega Institute, New York

Dr. Patricia Jennings, Assistant Professor of Research at Penn State University, Rebecca Calos, and Marc Meyer recently conducted a weekend workshop on October 5th, 6th, and 7th, entitled “Transformational Schools: Enhancing School Climate & Culture Through MindUP and CARE.” CARE is a unique Professional Development program for teachers developed and being tested at PSU under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Educational Sciences (IES). While MindUP focuses on children’s wellbeing yet also has benefits that accrue to their teachers, CARE focuses on the emotional health of the teacher. Attended by more than a dozen energetic and dedicated teachers from New York and Massachusetts, the workshop’s sessions were highly informative, relaxing and enjoyable.  Participants learned about emotional awareness, techniques for emotion regulation, and ways to apply these skills to their teaching and professional relationships, while simultaneously learning how to deliver MindUP Lessons and implement the program in individual classrooms and throughout a school. By the end of the workshop, people had learned techniques to reduce stress, improve mental concentration and emotional awareness, and facilitate responsiveness. The general comment of all who attended was that MindUP and CARE are entirely complementary and have the capacity to truly transform the cultural ecology of schools.

MindUP Regional Training in the Roaring Fork Valley, Colorado 

One hundred teachers, school administrators, childcare professionals, counselors, and even a few interested parents gathered at Colorado Mountain College in Aspen on May 19th and 20th for The Hawn Foundation’s two-day MindUP Regional Workshop to embark on a voyage of discovery and exploration–a journey that yielded fresh perspectives on social and emotional learning and how teachers can promote optimal learning for developing brains. The first day of the Workshop was devoted to the MindUP program and the research and pedagogy behind it. Through hands-on activities and lively discussion, people became familiar with MindUP’s 15 Lessons and implementation strategies and explored a variety of ways to bring MindUP to children in their classrooms and alternative settings. A team of experiencd MindUP Trainers, including Dr. Charlene Myklebust, Rebecca Calos, Kathy Hegberg, Lucia Puchalski, and Peter Bonanno, led a series of breakout sessions in which participants learned about MindUP’s Lessons on self-awareness, the brain and mindful awareness, and how the program promotes social and emotional learning as outlined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (www.casel.org). The second day of this Regional Workshop provided everyone with an opportunity to delve deeper into the “pillars” of MindUP–social and emotional learning, mindful awareness, positive psychology, and neuroscience–in order to implement the program with optimal success and understanding. Educators, counselors and parents then joined mini-workshops of their choice, which among others included “How to Conduct Classroom-based Research,” “How to Use MindUP for Special Needs Children,”  and “How to Integrate MindUP into Core Curricula.” Thought-provoking keynote speeches punctuated participants’ hands-on learning on both days. Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl of the University of British Columbia, New York psychologist and best-selling author Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Dr. Patricia Jennings of Penn State University and the Garrison Institute, and Apple Distinguished Educator and renowned technology integrator Amy Wright repeatedly demonstrated that optimism, happiness, and a sense of wellbeing are important ingredients in the lives of children and have a direct bearing on their success as adults.

Keep Your Mind Up in Basalt, Colorado 

In January 2012, Basalt Elementary School in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado hosted a full-day MindUP Teacher Training Workshop. As one of the largest schools in the region, Basalt Elementary has about 750 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Principal Suzanne Wheeler-Del Piccolo and her dedicated and talented faculty implemented the MindUP program, beginning with building students’ attentional skills with MindUP’s “Core Practice” and helping them learn about their brains. Over the past several months, teachers have worked mindfully, integrating the lessons and incorporating brain breaks into their classrooms. Teachers have noticed the calming effect this program has brought to the students. Children are better able to understand their own behaviors and are developing a clearer sense of self-awareness. One teacher expressed how the program has not only helped him become more aware of his students, but also has influenced his approach to working with them. Other teachers report that the MindUP vocabulary, such as “being mindful,” helps to create a more positive, nurturing classroom. So, by mid May Basalt Elementary teachers had worked their way through most of the 15 Lessons of the MindUP program. On a recent follow-up visit to the school, Dr. Marc Meyer, THF’s Director of Educational Programs and Initiatives, was treated to a lesson on gratitude, one of the key components of MindUP. Students in Ms. Sarah Jensen’s second grade class discussed “gratitude” and how being grateful means to feel thankful without necessarily saying “thank you.” MindUP’s eclectic and integrative approach allows teachers to extend the Lessons creatively and infuse skills and ideas into regular curricula and daily routines. So, Ms. Jensen asked her students to make a “Gratitude Tree.” Children cut out leaves and wrote down the name of a person for whom they are grateful. Next, students wrote why they felt the way they do on the other side of the leaf. The kids then attached the leaf to a tree, which was displayed in the room for all to see.

Cognitive Neuroscience and MindUP 

Goldie Hawn recently visited the lab of Dr. Amishi Jha, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Miami, Flordia. (See http://www.amishi.com/lab/.) Dr. Jha investigates the neural bases of attention, working memory, and the effects of mindfulness training. She also serves as a scientific adviser for The Hawn Foundation. Goldie met with Dr. Jha, philanthropist Stuart Miller, Alex Daily, Dr. Pascal J. Goldschmidt, Dean of the Miller School of Medicine at UM, and Dr. Rod Wellens, Psychology Department Chair at UM to discuss Amishi’s research on the cognitive neuroscience of mindfulness training and the link between her work and the aims of The Hawn Foundation. Goldie also explored the Jha Cognitive Neuroscience Brainwave Recording. With Dr. Jha, the foundation is planning to research the MindUP program as implemented in the Miami-Dade school district and examine the influence of MindUP on students from an empirical neuroscience-based perspective. Our hope is that this intersecton of cognitive neuroscience research and MindUP will make a substantial contribution to the knowledge and understanding of educators, scientists, and the general public regarding the beneficial effects of mindfulness.

Judy Willis and Marc Meyer at Learning & the Brain Conference

Learning & the Brain has been bringing neuroscientists and educators together since 1999 to explore new research on the brain and learning and its implications for education by providing educaitonal conferences, symposia, and summer institutes on the latest in neuroscience and psychology and their potential applications to teachers in their classrooms. On February 16, Dr. Judy Willis (see her website RADTeach) and Dr. Marc Meyer presented a four-hour workshop at the “Educating the Whole Child/Student” conference in San Francisco sponsored by Learning & the Brain. Nearly 1500 neuroscience researchers, public and independent school teachers and administrators, and others attended the three-day event. With their “Whole Child-Mind Interventions for Successful Students: What Research Tells Us about the Impact of Emotion,” Judy and Marc presented a variety of strategies focused on engaging students in the classroom, reducing stress, and readying a child’s brain for learning. About 150 people attended the workshop.

A MindUP Workshop in Pacoima, California

With a grant from Communities in Schools, which was garnered by its Los Angeles Chapter President, Bobby Arias, The Hawn Foundation had the opportunity to bring MindUP to a group of 65 teachers and administrators at Pacoima Charter School in Pacoima, California, on February 6th and 7th. This predominately Latino school serves 800 neighborhood children and other kids from the area in Pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. David Moreno, the school’s full-time social worker, was instrumental in orchestrating two workshops–one for the school’s leadership team and another for its full faculty and staff. Moreno will also serve as Pacoima Charter School’s MindUP School Coordinator. Teachers were impressed with how MindUP would teach the children those skills necessary to focus attention and reduce anxiety and stress, and left the workshop with a clear plan to begin the MindUP program immediately. Just in time for this year’s round of high-stakes testing that will take place in about six weeks’ time. Many felt that the “Core Practice” of focused attention/mindful breathing would really benefit the children.

MindUP in the Miami-Dade School District

With the support and encouragement of Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho, Rebecca Calos, MindUP Consultant and Associate Director of the Northeast Region, and Dr. Marc Meyer traveled to Miami, Florida to conduct MindUP workshops at two Miami-Dade public schools on February 3rd. The Teacher Training Workshops were held at the Coconut Palm Academy and William Lehman Elementary School–both known throughout the district for their inspired school leaders and dynamic and devoted teachers. Since the weather in Miami was nothing less than glorious, a number of workshop activities focused on the MindUP curriculum, such as Lessons 8 and 9 that involve mindful movement, were done outside–much to the delight of all participants. Dr. Linda Amica-Roberts, principal of Coconut Palm, remarked that her teachers were totally absorbed in the workshop and could not wait to implement the program with their students. A total of about 130 teachers and administrators attended the two trainings. And between them, Coconut Palm and William Lehman are home to about 1800 elementary and middle school students. Principal Maria Cruz was very happy that MindUP would be a part of Lehman Elementary School, especially given its focus on a variety of skills from which students will derive great benefits in the realm of social and emotional learning.

Teacher Training at the Chidren First Academies in Phoenix

On January 28th, The Hawn Foundation had the privilege of conducting a MindUP Workshop for teachers from two charter schools in Phoenix, Arizona. The Children First Academies of Tempe and Phoenix are unique K-8 schools because they serve a very distinct student population. They are schools for homeless and underprivileged children operating in the Valley of the Sun. Under the direction of the Sequoia Schools, the two academies serve about 500 at-risk children, and especially go to extraordinary lengths to fill the needs of the homeless. They pick up students from shelters and tempoary housing to attend school each day. They offer meals, organize volunteer health and dental care, have clothing rooms, and organize food drives for the children’s families. And needless to say, they teach to high academic standards.

MindUP was brought ot the Children First Academies through the generosity of the Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation. Principals Dan Cooper (Tempe campus) and Donna Driggers (Phoenix campus), along with 25 teachers attended the workshop conducted by Dr. Marc Meyer. Also in attendance were some special guests: Dr. Marilyn Seymann, Executive Director of the Halle Foundation; Debra Esparza, Senior Associate for Operations, and Janet Kington, Senior Associate for Integrated Systems, of  the Arizona Girl Scouts;. and, John Whiteman, CEO of the Whiteman Foundation. Participants were spellbound while learning about our evidence-based program and the neuroscience behind it and thoroughly enjoyed learning about the curriculum through hands-on activities.

Partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago 

The Hawn Foundation has entered into a new, vibrant partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago. Our collaboration was kicked off on 6 January with a MindUP Training Workshop for the 16 Club directors and other staff members conducted by Dr. Marc Meyer and Marilyn Perlman. Also attending from the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago were James Keane, President and CEO, and Jeffrey Sadowski, Vice President of Operations. The Hawn Foundation previously implemented MindUP in a Boys and Girls Club in Newark, New Jersey as well as a YMWCA in Akron, Ohio. With the help of our partners in the youth services field, it is the Foundation’s intention to develop a version of the MindUP Curriculum focusing on children’s wellbeing and happiness geared to after school programming. We are also pleased to announce that Goldie Hawn has been appointed to the National Board of Governors of the Boys and Girls Club, and joins the likes of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, baseball legend Ken Griffey, Jr., and philanthropist Lewis Katz.

Teacher Training Workshop in Basalt, Colorado

On 2 January, Dr. Marc Meyer and Dr. Charlene Myklebust conducted a MindUP Teacher Training Workshop for the faculty of Basalt Elementary School in Basalt, Colorado. Kathy Hegberg, founder of the Snowmass Counseling Center and Lucia Puchalski, a teacher at the school and now the MindUP Coordinator, assissted in the day-long training. One of the largest schools in the Aspen Valley region, Basalt Elementary has about 750 students in kindergarten through fourth grade. The school was awarded the 2011 Governor’s Distinguished Improvement prize (awarded annually to only 8% of Colorado’s public schools), which no doubt was a result of the hard work of Principal Suzanne Wheeler-Del Piccolo and her dedicated and talented faculty. The workshop was funded by a grant from the Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation. Participants were especially excited to hear about how MindUP is anchored in neuroscience and how they can engage students more fully in regular classroom activities through brain-based learning and teaching strategies. As an added surprise, Goldie Hawn, founder of The Hawn Foundation, stopped by to wish everyone a Happy New Year and to express her thanks to all of the Basalt Elementary School’s 65 teachers for bringing MindUP to their students. To read more about The Hawn Foundation’s workshop, see the recent article in The Aspen Times.

Newark’s Mayor Cory Booker Visits Oliver Street School

On December 20th Newark’s dynamic mayor, Cory Booker, spent the morning at Oliver Street School. At the invitation of Principal Havier Nazario and Dr. Marc Meyer of The Hawn Foundation, Mayor Booker observed and participated in MindUP activities in second, fourth, and fifth grade classrooms.

After being greeted by three seventh-grade students, Mayor Booker was whisked away to participate in a MindUP “brain break” with Ms. DaCosta’s fourth-graders. His student chaperons then guided him to Ms. Costeira’s second grade classroom, where Mr. Booker was treated to a fun MindUP lesson on nerve cells in the brain. The children and their special guest actually became neurons and pretended to send various sensory messages to the brain through dendrites and synapses!

A natural in the classroom, Mayor Booker spoke with Ms. Rodriques’s fourth graders about the choice they had to manage their emotions or let emotion take control of them. “You can be either a thermometer or a thermostat. One of the things you can control in this life is how you respond to the things around you. Don’t just get all heated up about what happens, act like a thermostat and guide your emotions,” the Mayor said.

Mayor Booker has been a staunch supporter of The Hawn Foundation’s efforts to bring MindUP to Newark school children. So far, about 400 teachers from 15 schools have participated in the Foundation’s professional development workshops, where educators learn about MindUP and the neuroscientific and social and emotion learning underpinnings of the program as well as experience the MindUP Curriculum first-hand. In Association with Newark Public Schools, The Hawn Foundation will conduct five new on-site school workshops in January and February.

Pilot Program in Chicago Public School District

Through a generous grant from the Perlman Family Foundation, founded by Louis and Anita Perlman, The MindUP Curriculum is now being implemented in two public schools as a part of a pilot program to disseminate MindUP in the Chicago area. Sauganash Elementary School and Pershing West Middle School were chosen to participate in the study and will implement the program throghout the 2011-2012 academic year. Nearly 75 teachers and administrators were trained in MindUP over two days of professional development workshops conducted by Dr. Marc Meyer and Rebecca Calos, Associate Director of The Hawn Foundation’s North East Regional Center. Becky is also a middle school teacher at Brown School, Schenectady, New York.

New Research on MindUP

After a year spent implementing MindUP and infusing it throughout its curriculum, the J. Erik Jonsson Community School of Dallas, Texas has released an in-house study of the effectiveness of the program. Using the MindUP Evaluation Toolkit and a few measures it adapted from other sources, this study looked at changes in peer acceptance for students in the 3s program through 3rd grade while the 4th and 5th grade students were evaluated for changes in peer acceptance, empathy, perspective taking, mindfulness and happiness. (Click here for a copy of the report.)

MindUP Trainings in Australia 

On December 6 through 9, Graham Watts, The Hawn Foundation UK’s program director, and Dr. Marc Meyer traveled to Brisbane Australia and conducted two MindUP workshops. Sponsored by The Benevolent Society, a two-day workshop was held for 25 participants to give staff and teachers a firm grounding in the MindUP program, which they will implement with young children and their families. Our first foray into Australia was followed a day later by a one-day workshop held at the Sesame Lane Child Centre in Kippa Ring, located just outside of Brisbane. About 25 faculty and administrators from Sesame Lane were joined by Other interested educators and clinicians from other Australian cities joined the 25 faculty and administrators from Sesame Lane to experience and gain first-hand knowledge of The MindUP Curriculum. Dr. Meyer was also invited to address to a group of local dignitaries and educators at a special breakfast meeting, during which he spoke about MindUP and the potential for a revolution in education by means of brain-based learning and teaching and mindfulness.

Marian University and THF Sponsor a Two-Day MindUP Regional Workshop

The Hawn Foundation and the School of Education faculty at Marian University of Indianapolis came together in October 2011 with great success, facilitating a conference and workshop that opened university students and educators minds and hearts to the impact of mindful education and the neuroscience of learning through MindUP by integrating presentations and workshop activities that informed students and teachers about the brain and ways to be responsive rather than reactive through positive social and emotional experience. Hosted by Dr. Lori Desautels, the conference featured a wide variety of keynote speeches by Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl of the University of British Columbia, psychologist Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Dr. Patricia Jennings of Penn State University, Dr. Marc Meyer of The Hawn Foundation, and Dr. Linden Hill of Marian University. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that optimism, feelings of success, and a sense of wellbeing begins and ends with “serving another” through everyday experiences.