For some of the most challenged students in East Palo Alto, the best part of their day is closing their eyes and turning in to themselves, reports The San Mateo Daily Journal on the success of a pilot program.
There are about 30 students, all of color and lower socioeconomic backgrounds, enrolled in the Sequoia Community Day School that focuses on helping transition students back into the district.
Twice a day for 18 minutes, the students – who have either been incarcerated and / or expelled from schools in the school district – are led in non-religious Transcendental Meditation practice by trained teachers. Students sit, close their eyes and allow themselves to have their attention travel naturally to a less active, quieter style of mental functioning.
Sceptical start, encouraging results
“There’s no way they would close their eyes before [Quiet Time],” said Karen Li, wellness coordinator for the school district. “In their world, you don’t close your eyes even when you’re sleeping.”
Community Day School students’ attitudes toward the program have changed since it first began. Principal R. Marshall Burgamy said initially students were concerned it wouldn’t fit their street personas.
“I thought it was weird and funny,” said one student following a meditation session. “I didn’t take it seriously. It helped me with my problems at home and controlling my anger.”
Data backs up the student improvement, Sequoia administrators say. For instance, both the number of suspensions and truancy has gone down significantly since the start of the Quiet Time program.
Read the full article:
“School says meditation helps struggling students: Pilot program lowers stress levels in East Palo Alto day school,” Angela Swartz, The Daily Journal
Watch a video about “Quiet Time” program implemented at Visitacion Valley Middle School, San Francisco:
Feature photo: Students of the Sequoia Community Day School during their morning meditation session. Angela Swartz/Daily Journal