Inner Strength Newsletter
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October Newsletter
Greetings <<First Name *>>
This Fall has been a wonderfully busy one with a mixture of breakthroughs in the classrooms, conference exposure for the program, and internal training for our Inner Strength instructors.

When I was teaching last week, in a 12th grade Civics class at one of the Mayor’s Office of Education Community Schools (a turn-around school that welcomes outside providers to support students, parents, and the neighborhood), we talked a lot about the types of thoughts that crowd our minds all the time. Teens spoke about everything from friends to grades to work to family to money issues to safety issues. After explaining with some experiential somatic methods what it looks like to “get some space on thought” or dis-embed from our identification with everything in our minds, we did a short mindful breathing exercise.
In a school that is rarely still, where students’ tempers can run high, and police are regularly in the immediate area to prevent violence, the room became quiet.
I was amazed at how still it was since that rarely happens especially in the first session. We had committed to sitting still for 8 minutes, three minutes went by and it seemed awfully long. I breathed and decided to keep going and see what happens. The five minute mark passed and there were a few shuffles, a student entered the class, the pre-school next door let out a posse of squealing 4-year olds for recess, an ambulance let loose its siren. We kept still.
Just before the 8-minute mark, I gently prompted the students to bring their attention back and to finish the exercise with the sound of a bell I use.
The students looked around a little bleary eyed. “How did it go?” I asked.
Two young men both started speaking at the same time.
“I felt so peaceful!” one started, a little bewildered.
“I haven’t felt this happy in I can’t say how long,” the other chimed in.
“It felt . . .” the first boy continued, “. . . I don’t know . . . free.”
I looked at the teacher, who was smiling ear to ear. As an educator, when you see insight dawning in one of your students, there’s nothing more fulfilling and encouraging.
If you find yourself discouraged by so much challenging news these days, remember that the spark of creativity can ignite anywhere, at anytime. And a spark can lead to a forest fire.
I feel privileged to be able to spend my time blowing on embers and seeing some hearts catch fire.


PS In the midst of all our activity this month, I had the opportunity to watch the ocean drop into the Pacific, see the sea otters hold hands for their evening sleep, and listen to the sea lions bark their lullabies. We all need rejuvenation with friends and beauty. I hope you are taking some precious time too!

Donate & Help Support Teen Mindfulness
Upcoming Events
Kindness wall from Furness High School

November 15

Conscious Classroom Webinar
Cultivating Gratitude: Thanksgiving special broadcast

Register here for this free webinar. 

November 7

Teen Day Retreat
Transforming the Teenage Mind

Our first teen retreat where we will be taking students from one of our high schools for a day of empowerment training, mindful awareness, and fun.
Thank you to our generous donors Steve & Debbie, Sheila & Steve for making this event possible!
October's Activities
10/19 Society for Research in Child Development's Annual Conference
sponsored a paper presentations on the research being conducted by Drs. Rachel Razza and Dessa Bergen-Cico from Syracuse University on Inner Strength programs. We are so proud to be part of such a significant study - and to be showing consistently positive results over 3 years of data collection. 

10/18 OpenBook Bookstore, Elkins Park
hosted a wonderful audience to listen to a reading from The Conscious Classroom. Thank you! If you are in the neighborhood, please purchase your next book there. Please support independent bookstores where ever you live!

10/11 Annual Conference of Pennsylvania's Coalition for Public Charter Schools
Inner Strength connected with superintendents, administrators, and teachers at this year's conference encouraging all schools to provide their hard-working educators with essential Self-Care/Secondary Trauma training and supports. 


Bodine's Sanctuary Room
Open for Teens


It has been two-and-a-half years in the making, from the vision of Principal Karen Thomas, to generous donations from Lowe's Community Fund for paint and plaster, to grants from other individuals, the Sanctuary Room at one of our high schools is now fully up-and-running and in use. Students are referred down by teachers or counselors for attention, stress, anxiety, focus, or regulations issues. Class teachers can bring their class for a 20 minute re-fresher lesson. And the students who have already trained through our full teen program now come in on their lunch breaks to quietly reflect, recharge, and spend some positive time with themselves. Staffed by the school's counseling department and Inner Strength instructors 3 days a week, we are so happy that the students now have a concrete space that they feel is their own for this all-important work. Thank you Julie Coopersmith, the Inner Strength on-site coordinator for your tireless effort and work to help teachers and students learn how to take advantage of all this resource has to offer. 

Decommissioning Whiteness
In-Service Training
Racial Literacy Webinar
This month, Inner Strength instructors who identify as white participated in a special training called “Decommissioning Whiteness.” Led by Middlebury College Professor Jonathan Miller-Lane, and using some readings from Debby Irving, Robin DiAngelo, and Bayo Akomolafe, we spent two days unpacking our own experience, lens, biases, and privilege with the intention to become more aware of culturally conditioned assumptions and myths, power and privilege inequities, and the ability to be with uncomfortable issues.
We will continue this exploration through the Spring and look forward to sharing more about the guidelines, readings, and outcomes.
I based this month’s Conscious Classroom Webcast on Racial Literacy, inspired by this in-service training and by the work of Dr. Howard Stevenson. In it, I give specific tools that you can use for yourself, at work, or in the classroom to help identify moments of racial stress and to help illuminate issues in a way that creates more ease and connection. 

Sign in here to access the Racial Literacy webcast audio.
 If you are interested in bringing Inner Strength to your school district, please reply to this email or visit the website.
Make a Gift! Help More Teens Benefit from the Tools of Mindful Reflection
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