Heart Centered 21st Century Learning

What if schools were havens for healing and prek-12 grade classes were intentionally designed to promote student voice, thriving, & success?

Photo of Christine Mason

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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

In a focus group, principal leaders described how most social emotional learning programs were implemented inconsistently, how even the best ones were often discarded after a few years, and how the mandate for academic achievement had created barriers and an imbalance. These principals helped design an approach that infused compassion, consciousness, courage and confidence while building intentional supportive communities, along with a rubric for visioning, planning, & monitoring progress.

As we considered how to grow this project, we realized that we could not put an end to cultures of violence through half-hearted attempts, but rather intensive efforts were needed over many years. We envision schools where communities work to expand children's wellbeing, resilience, problem-solving skills, and sense of safety and security. The CEO, Dr. Mason, also relied on her knowledge of yoga and mindfulness to consider how to rebuild education to take advantage of 21st Century knowledge and tools, including neuroscience, within the context of school community. Our inspiration comes from our collective knowledge and consciousness and from principals who are at the cutting edge, at the fore-front of adapting practices to ensure the wellbeing of every child in their school community. We were also inspired by our many collaborators who have opened doors for us -- individuals such as Dr. John Tenny at ClassGather who helped to develop the interactive version of our 21st Century Tool.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

If you chose to self-identify your race, ethnicity, or origin, please share here: (the answer will not be public)

CEI associates and interns represent a wealth of diversity and cultural and ethnic heritages.

Website

www.edimprovement.org
see also www.classgather.com

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Virginia

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Vienna

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • District of Columbia

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Washington, DC; and with principals and principal affiliate organizations in MA, VA, MI, and PA.

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

John Hattie (2012) indicates that teachers need to be “directive, influential, caring, and actively and passionately engaged in the process of teaching and learning.” (p. 19). A significant number of children in America live in a culture of violence, bullying and trauma. By age four, over one-quarter of America’s children have experienced significant trauma. In school, students experience further trauma through bullying and academic failure. Our knowledge of neuroscience supports efforts such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and student voice and engagement in helping children through this trauma and helping to build resiliency. If principals and teachers were better informed and had tools to help guide them, then schools might provide an ideal setting for bringing about significant change.

Teachers and principals can be at the heart of the solution, serving as the catalyst of protection and as healing agents for those children affected by trauma, violence and crisis. We see teachers and principals as agents of mediation. For some students, an agent of mediation is someone listening to their fears and concerns; for others it is someone helping them problem solve or learn new ways to handle situations and conflicts. Teachers and principals also establish cultures of healing.

Educators will only optimize the learning success of children when we shift from a focus on academics and learning in academic environments to a more balanced understanding of the children in our classrooms. The children we are teaching will only thrive and flourish when we meet children where they are; when we teach with a full realization of how to mindfully instruct in a way that pulls each child into the excitement of learning, and when we build neural pathways that help children overcome trauma and expand their confidence and self-esteem.

During Phase I of the Heart Centered approach, CEI, in conjunction with Thrivist and ClassGather, created over 70 web-based tools to further 21st Century Heart Centered Education. The tools provide a resource for teacher professional learning communities and teams to engage in visioning, planning, and monitoring to meet the unique needs and strengths of teachers, classrooms, students, and schools. With these tools and our technical assistance, we help teachers, principals, and educational leaders with the conscious application of neuroscience, opening doors to justice, equity, and student voice, and a paradigm shift to create havens of healing and success.  We envision more webinars, eConferences, and mini-Certification. Working with dedicated educators like Dr. Michele Rivers Murphy, Suzan Mullane, Paul Liabenow, and Mark Weiss; neuroscientists such as Dr. Bruce Wexler; engineering educators such as Liz Parry; astronomers such as Kevin Manning; an amazing board and team; and a host of CEI supporters, we are striving to help schools excel, to help educators become more mindful, and to help children thrive.

At schools implementing parts of the CEI vision -- schools that are focused on kindness and compassion, for example, principals report that there is increased consideration and kindness, more cooperation, and more student resiliency. At schools that have implemented the recommended neuroscience components, students are demonstrating improvements in focus, memory, and achievement in reading and math. We believe we are only now beginning to see the potential impact of the heart centered approach.

As we enter Phase II of Heart Centered implementation, we have set goals for increased use of the program, particularly at the elementary and middle school levels, and we have targeted specific states as the most likely places for concentrated efforts. During Phase II, we intend to not only gain a better understanding of our suggested cycle of visioning, planning, implementation, and refinement, but also to collect data on the impact of our program in schools. While we have schools lined up as demonstration sites, we are seeking funds to implement demonstration projects and envision that those demonstration projects will give us further insights into the next steps. 

Note: In developing our approach we relied on current research on student learning, overcoming trauma, and implementing change. We also networked with a group of principal leaders who continue to serve as an informal advisory council to the project. With even nominal funds we might expand our resources to advise schools, to provide the technical assistance needed for them to lead teachers through a cycle of visioning, planning,  implementation, and refinement. 
Image title

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Children who are differently abled
  • LGBTQ or non-binary individuals
  • Religious minorities (non-Christian)
  • Low-income communities
  • Other

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education

If you chose "other," please share the sector you work within here:

Vulnerable children experiencing trauma and academic failure.

Year Founded

2014

Project Stage

  • Idea (poised to launch)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

CEI is collaborating with Thrivist and ClassGather to encourage schools and districts to use our program. We conduct webinars, and CEI offers training and technical assistance at conferences such as the Annual Conference of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. We are collaborating with a network of 20 school principal leaders who are implementing components of our program and helping us gear up for pilot projects using the CEI Tools and the ClassGather website. Our program monitors both student and teacher activities, cultivating self awareness, student voice, STEM/STEAM, neuroscience, and community building. We offer workshops, technical assistance, and assistance with visioning, planning, implementation, & monitoring.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Last year we distributed monthly eNewsletters on the Heart Centered 21st Century topics to more than 6,000 principal leaders, linking to another 22,000 through the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). These eNewsletters are archived at our site. We also delivered 22 workshops on 21st Century Learning, Heart Centered Education, and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) in Washington, DC; Pittsfield, MA; Fairfax, VA; and Suffern, NY and at a planning and visioning session at the NAESP conference. Preschool-K teachers in DC turnkeyed implementation in their schools. We also delivered our first webinar on our approach last month. We are gearing up for potential pilots in PA, MA, DC, VA, SC, NY, and MI, as well as two presentations with P21 (a premier organization of 21st Century companies) and exemplary principals at this year's NAESP conference.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $50k - $100k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

CEI is currently promoting our program with Thrivist/ClassGather which has a network of over 1000 school districts, with sites in every state and internationally. We will offer webinars & workshops in DC, MA, NY, &PA & will reach out to sites with existing relationships with Thrivist/ClassGather. Dr. Mason is collaborating with Dr. Yvette Jackson (National Urban Alliance) to author a book and with P21 on another book. Both elaborate our approach.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

The Berkeley Unified School District's "Toolbox Project" addresses this problem by offering a useful tool set for social and emotional learning, but no observational tool. Apperson's "Evo SEL" offers an observational tool for social and emotional learning, but it is not customizable. We offer both a powerful tool set and a customizable interactive observational tool to implement the Heart Centered 21st Century program and collect and report data on classroom interactions to support sound decision-making for professional development and teacher quality assessment.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Mindfulness is critical, along with related approaches such as compassion-focused therapy, neuroscience, yoga, and meditation. Also, Dr. Jackson (National Urban Alliance) has developed an approach that advances student voice. Each of these has a strong research base demonstrating the power to help override the amygdala and create new neural pathways. In addition, we are co-developing and promoting tools such as Dr. Wexler's C8 Science's brain-based learning program; Exam Performance to reduce test anxiety; and CEI's Heart Beaming, which includes yoga-like mindfulness movements for students.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

George White, one of CEI's writers, and an educational policy expert focused on social justice and equity.

Program Design Clarity

a) Our main community includes principals, principal leaders, and teachers and our main connection is through NAESP. b) Our activities include focus groups, surveys, professional development, presentations, webinars, blogs, and our eNewsletter. c) CEI is a sponsor of the VA school principal affiliate; we network frequently with NAESP affiliates in MI and MA; connect with NAESP ZONE leaders like Dr. Patschke (PA); & hold annual meetings at the NAESP conference d) CEI CEO Dr. Mason delivers services with a group of 33 affiliates and interns (who assist with background research and writing).

Community Leadership

We are continually networking, incorporating feedback, and planning ways for others to share the limelight. At the recent elementary school principals' conference, we shared two presentations on 21st Century Learning with P21 and panels of exemplary principals, who highlighted their growth. Equity: CEI works with a diverse team in underserved communities; the CEI rubric includes domains for cultural responsiveness and social justice & equity.

Age of Children Impacted

  • 3 - 5
  • 6 - 12
  • 12+

Spread Strategies

Our community is an international community, beginning with a strong foundation in the US. We are engaged in international presentations with international representation on our board. CEO Dr. Mason is currently working on 2 books. We have a history of presenting at the annual NAESP conference and are gearing up for future webinars. We are working intensely with three NAESP affiliates (MI, VA, & MA) and seeking funding for demonstration projects.

Reflect on how your work helps children to thrive. How are you cultivating children’s sense of self, belonging, and purpose through your model?

We envision schools as havens for healing with principals and teachers who intentionally integrate activities to establish a foundation of consciousness, compassion, courage, and confidence, for children. We have worked with principal leaders to design tools to help them with visioning, planning, and monitoring; we have schools lined up for project sites; we are seeking funds for demonstration projects and further refinement/dissemination.

Leadership Story

I have been inspired by many supporters, as well as new and ancient yogis, who have helped to clarify my vision. I spent hours with Mark Weiss (Operation Respect), and Drs. Kamran Namdar, Michele Rivers Murphy, Yvette Jackson, and others pouring over what is needed to wake people up so that they act with more compassion. My immersion at the Science of Compassion Institute was helpful. Gail Connelly, NAESP CEO, gave me encouragement, as did many principal leaders. Lastly, Paul Liabenow (MI NAESP Affiliate) helped me understand we needed a tool to help principals with measurement and visioning.

What awards or honors has the project received? (Optional)

Recognition as a Pioneer by the Children's Wellbeing Initiative.
Selected to participate in the Science of Compassion Institute (2014)
CEO Invited to be a Keynote Presenter at International Symposium on Educational Research (Finland, 2013)
Invited to prepare two books (ASCD & Corwin Press publ.)

Organization's Twitter Handle

@edimprove

Organization’s Facebook Page (URL)

https://www.facebook.com/Edimprove/

Leader's LinkedIn Profile (URL)

https://www.linkedin.com/in/christine-mason-19100a

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 66.7%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 0%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 33.3%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 66.7%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 0%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 33.3%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 0%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 66.7%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 0%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 33.3%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 0%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 66.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 33.3%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 0%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 0%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 100%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 0%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 0%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 100%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 100%

View more

Team (8)

Amber Nicole's profile
Amber Nicole Dilger

Role added on team:

"Amber Nicole Dilger, Associate with the Center for Educational Improvement, is a music and mindfulness instructor."

Christine's profile
Alleta's profile
Alleta Baltes

Role added on team:

"Alleta is an elementary school principal in Wyoming. She is known for her work with technology and 21st Century Learning."

Jordan's profile
Jordan Gilliard

Role added on team:

"Jordan Gilliard is a web intern with CEI"

suzan mullane's profile
suzan mullane

Role added on team:

"Suzan Mullane is a CEI Associate and presenter who focuses on helping to overcome childhood trauma."

Maud Schaafsma's profile
Britt's profile
Britt Weaver

Role added on team:

"Britt Weaver brings her experience as a teacher of students with learning disabilities to our team."

Michele's profile
Michele Rivers Murphy

Role added on team:

"Dr. Rivers Murphy is a significant partner in our Heart Centered Approach. She is a catalyst for much of our work and refinement. Well-connected, with significant experience in MA, Michele is one of our keys to implementing a local demonstration project in underserved schools in MA."

Attachments (1)

Chapter 1 Creating Havens of Healing, Health, & Well Being.pdf

Dr. Mason is collaborating with Dr. Yvette Jackson (National Urban Alliance) and Dr. Michele Rivers Murphy, a CEI Associate, in preparation of a book describing our approach of Heart Centered 21st Century Learning; the first draft is under review.

103 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Luciano Copete
Team

It is only through the dedication and wisdom generated by Christine Mason and her team at the CEI's Heart -Centered  http://www.edimprovement.org that I fully agree and promote her program to have the tools to improve the full spectrum view of education in early stages. Healing and clearing the challenges of the child at early age will guarantee a solid foundation to understand future social and behavioral complexities in our society.

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Luciano,

Thank you so much for your generous support over the years. We are truly blessed to be supported by persons such as yourself. I love your phrase "clearing the challenges." That is indeed what can be accomplished through Heart Centered Education. There is much work to be done!
 Best,
Chris

Photo of Grace Rubenstein
Team

CEI’s Heart-Centered 21st Century Learning project gives me hope that schools will have more support in fostering a whole-person approach. With CEI’s initiatives, children will prosper as they heal from within. Only with a nourished soul can a child be fully engaged in their own learning. Once their internal worries are addressed through effective social and emotional practices, then they will be capable of forging positive relationships with the world around them.

For example, through my employment at a nature day camp, I have seen the rewards that certain outdoor activities can have on a child’s wellbeing. My favorite lesson for teaching awareness involves sending the kids to sit in a quiet spot and draw a sound map of what they hear. This challenges them to be present and in tune with their surroundings, while simultaneously giving them an opportunity to listen to themselves.

Children gain little from just memorizing facts, but when they are also taught to care about their local environment, they exhibit emotional maturity and ownership over their integral roles in preserving natural parks for their community. It would be wonderful if schools incorporated nature into their efforts to improve mindfulness, compassion, and citizenship in their students. 

Amazing work! 

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

From Kevin Manning, Astronomer (who had trouble posting)

I have had an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Christine Mason, Executive Director for the Center for Educational Improvement (CEI), for several years, and have worked with her in middle schools, teaching teachers about astronomy as part of bringing STEM and project based learning to schools (http://www.lookuptothestars.com). From my work with youth, families, schools, and communities, I have seen first-hand the value of increasing student engagement, which is a critical part of Heart Centered Learning. CEI is currently investigating some innovative ideas to infuse science and 21st Century learning at a deeper level into elementary and middle schools.

In my experiences working alongside Dr. Mason in workshops, I have found her enthusiasm, intelligence, and innovative methods highly stimulating to my own intellect, and have seen the results of those methods being shared with great reception. For students of various learning styles to be engaged in the learning experience beyond purposes of mere academic achievement, it takes a sincere focus on what motivates the heart, especially for those students lacking intrinsic motivation toward learning. In scientific inquiry, the requirements of passion, curiosity, and patience take an important role in learning. CEI's Heart Centered Learning and 21st Century approach achieve these and much more.

All the best,
Kevin

Kevin Manning, Astronomer
Look Up to the Stars
(631) 921-9716
kevin@lookuptothestars.com
www.lookuptothestars.com

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Kevin,
I know you are on the road again - Arizona/New Mexico I believe, with your traveling astronomy show! I have seen students and teachers enthralled by your videos, explanations, and demonstrations. Students so eager to learn that their eyes are riveted on your presentations. This is what we aim for. It is a joy to be counted among your colleagues. Rest well tonight and thanks for taking a few minutes so that we could add your story to ours.

Photo of J. Barbarotta
Team

As an educator entering my second decade in the profession I fully believe in Heart Centered 21st Century Learning.  If there is one thing I am sure of in education it is making learning meaningful to the individual student. When deep and personal connections are made TRUE learning takes place. 

The work that Dr. Mason, Dr. Jackson and Dr. Rivers-Murphy are immersed in WILL change education in the future and WILL changes the lives of many children, especially those in underfunded and under privileged schools and communities. 

Please support the work they are engaged in...become a part of their solution! 

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Thank you!  So many stories to share. Yes, I learned a lot about connecting with kids during the years I taught.

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

From Dr. Rivers Murphy:
Research confirms that parent and family involvement is the number one indicator of student success, and strong parent/family-school-community connections support learning even further. My work with an innovative community education approach in some of the highest needs area of our city, capitalizes on both the student and parent voice, and parent, neighborhood and community connections and engagement in children’s education and the school environment. We all have a shared responsibility to bear in educating our children. When we work together and pull together our collective resources, we have the ability to create amazing safe havens of learning where all children can thrive!

Photo of Jan-Marie Fernandez
Team

I am thrilled to see the work that CEI is bringing forward in regards to a Heart Centered approach. As a experienced leader of a very large elementary school, it is clear that there is no better time than now to expand our focus on children's wellbeing, building of resiliency, developing compassion, and understanding mindfulness strategies. CEI's approach is aligned with the most recent neuroscience and outlines the importance of building a safe environment in order for our students to be able to learn. Powerful work!   

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Dr. Fernandez,
You have had remarkable successes in your truly unique elementary school, a school that served children with hearing impairments, children with emotional and behavior problems, and English Language Learners. And at the same time, being a part of Fairfax County's technology hub schools. I appreciate the time we have spent trading ideas in your office as well as your contribution on CEI's Advisory Board.  Remember last year when I suggested that ESSA (the Every Student Succeeds Act) provides an opportunity for principals to speak out and help reshape education?  If you look through the comments here, we have the voices of many, including many principals. 

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

From my colleague and team member, Michele Rivers Murphy: Thank you for your generous comments and thank you for your service as an educational leader of a large elementary school! Indeed educating a child today requires a small village of people to “expand our focus” beyond the academic lens and address the social service needs of our students. Parents, surrounding neighborhood residents, community members, social agencies and organizations’ wrap around involvement are essential to the process of creating resilient, safe and compassionate learning environments so all children can heal and thrive!

Photo of Maria
Team

As a psychologist and parent of a child who has experienced bullying, I have witnessed first hand the detrimental social and psychological effects that bullying has had on both the bully and the victim. Dr. Mason's Heart Centered approach stands apart from other anti-bullying campaigns and social-emotional approaches to learning through its focus on reflective discovery, self- and  other- awareness, strengths and capabilities, and the central role that each child plays in the larger community. I have witnessed the impact that this approach has had on my own child as he is developing a greater sense of himself as a confident, capable, child that is as unique as he is similar to his peers. The Heart Centered approach helps students see and experience the common bonds that each child shares with one another while celebrating the differences. 

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Maria,
So wonderful that your son is gaining confidence and a more positive sense of self! Hopefully you are seeing a little more spark in his eyes -- bullying often is traumatic. I believe parents may often feel helpless as they struggle to uncover facts and help devise solutions.  It sometimes takes planned, coordinated efforts between home and school to help a child heal. We still don't know all the reasons that children become bullies; however, often they were bullied themselves. At other times bullies may bully to overcome their own feelings of inadequacy. We are seeing however, that concerted efforts to help children feel secure and to address their individual needs with kindness and caring can go a long ways -- to help both the bully and the individual who was bullied.

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

From Dr. Willie Jackson, a Principal Mentor and Consultant in MN: I am humbled by the opportunity to work directly with Christine and other colleagues. The primary connection is understanding need, prioritizing and demonstrating paradigm shifts within learning environments. It is having "heart" / emotional intelligence that makes the difference. Thanks for being a professional partner.
(Dr. Jackson had difficulty posting). 

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Dr. Jackson,
Good to hear your voice! As such a long-time principal mentor who coached so many principals, you certainly understand how even at the level of the principal some basic heart centered practices need to be in play! In the book that Yvette Jackson, Michele Rivers Murphy, and I are writing, we use a strategy of helping the reader (principal, teacher) practice the strategy-- such as mindfulness- and reflect on its value before introducing it in classrooms.

Photo of Ajeet Khalsa
Team

I am the founder of Dancing Spider Yoga and the Parenting with Radiance program. See my Facebook page here (https://www.facebook.com/dancingspideryoga/?fref=ts&ref=br_tf). I worked briefly with Dr. Mason at The Principals Convergence in Nashville four years ago. I gave a brief showing of how learning simply how to relate to children through rhymes, play and movement can have a huge effect not only on the happiness of the child, but of the parent or caretaker, the teacher and the administrators in school. Dr Mason was absolutely unstoppable in her desire to change the environments of the classroom and to support the well-being not only of children, but the systems and environments in which they learn. 
Connecting via heart-based learning is also brilliant! It is a simple yet profound way to cross barriers and get to the 'heart' of the matter. And in the end, if we can truly have compassion and love for someone, so many of our desired outcomes can be reached. 

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Ajeet,
My yogi friend. Dancing Spiders, the name alone brings a smile to my face. Think of all the endorphins that creates!  Blessings-

Photo of Holly
Team

I believe the focus on vulnerable learners who've suffered trauma is the group that most needs and deserves extra support. I think it's very exciting that some of your project focus on this group, and I really love the heart-centered approach to what your foundation supports! 

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Holly,
How does the saying go, "You gotta have heart"? Heart combined with a will to make lives better, to truly understand at a deeper level, and the drive to persevere. Children are important. They deserve out best!

Photo of Francesca Costantino
Team

We learn far more in school than reading, writing and arithmetic, such as values and character. CEI's heart centered approach to learning is innovative, and a much needed counterbalance to teach compassion and community for productive, peaceful citizens. I have known Chris Mason for many years from Quaker meeting, and can attest as a layperson to her dedication to improving education methodologies and bringing a yoga mindfulness approach to education.

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Dear Friend,
Oh my Quaker years, they were so foundational; listening to the small quiet voice within.  A wonderful prelude to the yoga that followed. I still listen; I still hear. I still love the silence and the deeper understanding that often follows from sitting in silence.  And I continue to value our friendship. Peace...

Photo of Melissa Patschke
Team

The authentic work that Dr. Mason and CEI are doing to support educators and students is amazing! Elevating the understanding of powerful social/emotional learning environments is the foundation that places "what's right for our kids and schools" on a pedestal of priorities!   This work amplifies the importance of whole child initiatives and research.  Most importantly, this work amplifies the value of student voice.  

Principals and teachers are called on to listen, engage, and prioritize relationships.  When children feel safe, they trust.  When trust is established, risk is possible.  When we risk, we grow.  School leaders, teachers, and parents have the honor of molding mindsets & launching the potential of upcoming generations.  

Through Dr. Mason & the CEI's  practices such as mindfulness, compassion, and courage, the future is truly bright.  As a 20 year veteran school principal, it is refreshing and encouraging to know that this heart-centered work is abundant in our profession.  Our kids deserve it! 

Dr. Melissa D. Patschke
Zone 2 Director for NASEP
Board of Directors, PA Principal's Association

Elementary Principal
Upper Providence Elementary School, Royersford, PA
Spring-Ford Area School District

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Dr. Patschke,
I stand in awe of your accomplishments. Your school in a small town in PA, your work as a Zone 2 Director for NAESP, your international outreach, your resiliency and the resiliency of your staff and your students. Your input has been critical, and collaboration with principals in PA and other Zone 3 states will help us leap ahead. As I inhale, I inhale a spirit of gratitude. As I exhale, I exhale joy, love, courage, peace, and blessings for all who will be walking with us as we take the next steps.

Photo of Jay
Team

As a person who myself is moving forward a campaign to get the public behind bringing the most modern and effective social and emotional learning systems into schools, I applaud Christine Mason's superb efforts to move her own program forward.  We think SEL efforts like Christine's are the most important element available to transform schools and to elevate society and the human species overall, and we invite everyone to support such programs when and where they can, as with Christine's efforts.

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Jay,
Thank you for your comments. A groundswell of support from many sectors will certainly be an important part of our efforts as we advance this work. And, I really believe that each time additional voices join with us, that we become a step closer to realizing our dreams for children, families, and communities.

Photo of Kevin Green
Team

I fully endorse Dr. Mason's heart-centered approach to education because it represents the fulfillment of teachers having high expectations for their students. If teachers have high expectations for their students, students will strive to meet those standards, and conversely, low expectations have the negative outcome of discouraging efffort and low achievement. Additionally, CEI's emphasis on neuroscience is more aligned with a child’s natural way of learning. Furthermore, the incorporation of yoga and meditation coupled in their heart-centered approach provides each child a holistic educational tool-kit to support them in greater academic achievement, wellbeing, resiliency, conflict-resolution, and secure and centered in who they are.

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Outstanding program! I certainly hope the CEI program receives wide support to become  established in school systems throughout the country. As a retired psychotherapist specialized in Trauma, former early childhood teacher and principal, I know too well the effects of trauma on children. We live in a society full of trauma. Children need an education program which is  encouraging, supportive, creative, innovative, and visionary which allows each child to learn and grow holistically. The body remembers on a cellular level. Therefore, incorporating yoga, meditation, and mindfulness offers essential tools for healing, positive growth, and development. 

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Melinda,
Thank you for your dedicated service and strong advocacy for children and our Heart Centered program. Blessings to you today!

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Chris Mason is a true visionary. The research is becoming abundantly clear with regard to the vital importance of relationships and caring as foundational to education. As a 26 year veteran principal and current principal trainer my view is the sooner heart centered education is incorporated, the better.

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Dr. Sciarappa,
Thanks for your dedicated service to the field and your strong support. While at NAESP I was blessed to work closely with you on principal mentoring and to have continued our work together as co-authors and as a promoter of your important workshop on "Rigor" using another rubric we developed that had a strong metacognition component. Our work together was part of the springboard for Heart Centered education. As we go forward, I am truly hopeful that there will be a role for principal mentoring for using our CEI Tool in schools.

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I am sure you may be familiar with Heart Math Institute. Your work is critical looking at the state of the nation in building a new generation of citizens leaders in the homes, communities and institutions. Thank you!

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Tambra,
Thank you for your understanding. Yes, Heart Math, is amazing! I attended one of their seminars at a conference on Thriving at George Mason University a couple of years ago. The research base behind their work is substantial. This is powerful and our work is indeed a complement to theirs.

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Our children are born with the magic of their innate potential: potential that could enable them to make vast contributions to our world. Unfortunately, as CEO of the National Urban Alliance, I have witnessed children who have been scarred by toxic experiences outside and inside school that have wounded their minds so deeply, their learning potential is hampered, going unrecognized by them and those upon they depend. CEI provides educators with guidance in strategies of mindful education that heal our students so the magic of their potential can be rekindled to thrive and personal success can be realized. How can we afford not to recognize and support such a vital effort?!

Yvette Jackson, CEO National Urban Alliance.

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Yvette,
I am so thankful for all the work you have done; honored to know you and to share meals with you; to collaborate from our hearts. You speak truths on so many levels -- such a profound belief in the power that lies within each individual. Your books, Aim High, and Pedagogy of Confidence, are primers that help guide us. I trust that your message of "student voice" will reach more and more educators and communities. In the best of worlds we listen with our hearts and minds, and act from our hearts and minds, combining our wisdom and intellect, with heartfelt knowing, understanding, and action.

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It is time we bring back the balance to education, and Heart Centered  21st Century Learning provides an excellent place to start.  Without supplanting a school's academic curriculum, this program elevates the social-emotional development of every child, ages 3-18, with a focus on the 5 C's: consciousness, compassion, courage, confidence, and community.  Using current research in neuroscience, teachers have a useful and efficient way to gather growth data with their students.  What an exciting addition to education.

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Jillayne,
Yes! 5 Cs to keep the underlying principles clear. These are the big buckets that we need to fill in every classroom, in every school, in every home. Another way of saying "be the love."  Be the love that makes a difference for others, and for yourself. And as we move forward, let's make sure and consider what we are continuing to learn each day from neuroscience, 21st Century learning, and the impact of mindfulness/yoga/meditation. Now that the foundation is laid, our next steps are demonstration projects. I intend to have people like you on board to help us vision, plan, implement, evaluate, and refine. Thank you for your leadership and dedication!

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The Heart Centered 21st Century Learning approach exposes students to effective strategies, themes related to compassion, health related practices, relaxation techniques and coping skills that enable students to increase their confidence and overall well being.  It is my hope that the students transfer the skills learned in the program to their daily living when interacting with family members and in the community.  Students are having a difficult time coping with stress and processing traumatic events that they observe or experience personally.  The conditions are adversely affecting their ability to learn and function in school.  As a school psychologist, I often observe students having difficulty concentrating, relating to others, delaying gratification, identifying their feelings, communicating their thoughts, and displaying appropriate behaviors during conflict.   Unfortunately, my classroom and testing observations reveal that students have much more on their mind than learning.  Teachers who "just want to teach" may find it challenging to find a good school fit.  However, teachers who model and incorporate Heart Centered 21st Century Learning practices in their daily school activities increase the probability that students will experience success.   It is my understanding that the Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) will provide schools with more of an  opportunity to decide what variables are important to assess when measuring a school's success.   Teacher and school evaluations that include social/emotional aspects of development, student-engagement,  student's attitude toward learning,  project based learning and school culture may be considered.  I am looking forward to receiving your eNewletter to learn more about components of Phase II of Heart Centered 21st Century Learning and your overall progress.   

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Lisa,
Thanks for your support! Our monthly eNewsletters are archived here:
 ( http://www.edimprovement.org/newsletter-archive/). You can subscribe on the lower right hand corner of that page.  We have a subscriber database of over 6,000 educators --

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From Jillayne Flanders, Former Principal and Interim Executive Director, Massachusetts Association of Elementary School Principals: Congratulations on this well deserved recognition.
 We all know this is exactly what our children, their families and our schools need.
We also know this is just the first steps for Heart Centered 21st Century Learning.
Your commitment and passion is beaming, and now let's get on with our work!
 (Note: Posted for Jill who could not log on)

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From Mary Woods (Principal Mentor): With Heart Centered Learning students will be guided to the excitement of learning, with confidence and compassion to increase student achievement. (note: Mary was not able to log on)

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Colloborative efforts to create and sustain a safe and peaceful environment is integral in establishing a healing pod of mindful techniques germane to each youth to seed and expound Heart Centered Being."
Atiba Vheir, Ph.D   (note I am adding a few comments from people who were not able to log on)

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Christine,
After using the Heart Beaming exercises with both general and special populations of 6th graders, I can attest that this program has enabled my students to draw on important concepts such as mindfulness, meaningful reflection, yogic breathing, and kinesthetic acquisition of concepts.   These practices allow them to see beyond themselves to the greater connections we all have to each other.  It was an excellent way for my students to see their role as a catalyst for positive impact they can bring to their own personal fulfillment as well as their role as a change agent in the world community.

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Linda,
It is amazing what a little breathing will do! Heart Beaming is so simple, yet powerful. Appreciate your dedication and commitment here in Northern VA.

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I've worked with Chris and clients' teachers had very positive things to say about her kind, thoughtful, and supportive approaches. Chris is very creative and a true entrepreneur. I am so pleased to see that she has persevered with her heart-centered education approach and wish her and her organization every success in this endeavor!

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What kind words! Appreciate your support. We are all made stronger by the support we give each other--

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Jessica,
 Thank you for your comments and enthusiasm! For others, let me suggest they take a look at the Heart Beaming exercises that can be downloaded here (http://www.edimprovement.org/2014/06/ceis-new-free-tool-heart-beaming/) from a simple booklet that I developed with K'Lee Banks and her son who did our illustrations. I very much enjoyed teaching a Heart Beaming class in Pittsfield. The exercises can be taught in a class or can be inserted as "mind-stretch" breaks during the day when students are starting to become restless.  One of the unique features in Heart Beaming are the 3-4 meditations that I developed. Each includes a hand mudra (position) and a visualization. These seem to be powerful for both adults and children. We are excited about our work in MA.  My best, Chris @edimprove

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This is a wonderful approach for all children.  As an early childhood educator of ten years,  I have learned that children learn and grow when they have a sense of self love and worth and know that people care about them and believe in them.  The CEI program is on it's way to making BIG CHANGES that will help develop student,  teacher,  family and community relationships everywhere.  Dr.  Rivers Murphy is a passionate,  amazing advocate for children and  families and has worked hard to bring this to Massachusetts and the surrounding areas.  She and her team are on a mission to reach as many people as they can to help build a better future for all. The Heart Beaming book has been a "game changer" for me and I have seen a dramatic difference in my students and in myself.   I am excited to follow CEI's journey and support them one-hundred percent!  Keep up the excellent work!  

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The use of heart based learning in crucial in schools, especially those where historically underprivileged children attend. As we move away from punitive discipline and attempt to adopt more restorative justice practices, it is imperative children understand how to deal with conflict in a positive manner. CEI's program is making a step in this movement by bringing a family centered tool into classrooms. This will help students with emotional intelligence, maturity, and help increase confidence and academic achievement. Please choose. 

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Elijah-
We couldn’t agree with you more that there needs to be a different solution and approach for all children, and especially for those in high-needs neighborhood and districts, often the “forgotten.” Our heart-centered approach capitalizes on the strengths and potential of each and every child and addressed a myriad of stressors associated with the “historically underprivileged children” who attend school across our great nation every day seeking safety, belonging, shelter and food-- respite from their reality. And, oh yes- they have dreams and hopes just like us and, they so deserve their dreams to be fulfilled like us! With parent involvement as the number one indicator of student success, we certainly need to shift our thinking and actions towards a family/community-centered strategy to ensure all children thrive (as you so wonderfully said) with “emotional intelligence, maturity, and increased confidence and academic achievement.” Thank you for your work and heart!

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Keep up the great work!!

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So important! These are excellent, fresh ideas that will make for a positive learning environment for students of all different backgrounds as well as educators. I can't wait to see what you and the CEI will accomplish next! 

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Marielle,
We care deeply about the work we are doing. Our approach is one of the few that focuses on social justice and equity, cultural responsiveness, student voice, community building, and envisioning "exemplary classrooms" that go beyond being proficient to infusing our heart centered, 21st Century learning concepts throughout the school day.

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This is such an important principle to implement into education for young people, and it's so nice to see it implemented in such a widely inclusive way! I'm excited to see where this goes.

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Luna,
Thanks for taking the time to support our work!

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A great organization with even greater leadership. I've seen first hand the impact CEI can have in schools with teacher and student development. I can't wait to see how CEI continues its work in the education field. 

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Sharlen,
Great to hear from you! Yes, we have a wonderful team at CEI. So many great minds and caring hearts. We are so ready for the next steps!

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Excellent!

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Peter,
I'll take that! Hope you remembered to applaud! So appropriate that a "heart" is tapped for applause.  @edimprove

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Students can really benefit from this!

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Alec,

I agree 100%!!! Make that 1,000% !!!  @edimprove

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I applaud the work that Dr. Mason and CEI are doing to help educators and students.  CEI has a vision for schools to include more consciousness and compassion.  Dr. Mason has a wide network of supporters and works closely with many principal leaders.  Her approach is thorough and knowledgeable.  She brings significant educational experience to all that she does; that knowledge shines through with this submission.

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Cyrus,
I appreciate your endorsement!  As an educator with a background in special education, educational research, inclusion and multi-cultural sensitivity, student self-determination, 21st Century learning, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and school leadership, I feel as if I have the skills and knowledge to scale-up this strategy. With supporters like yourself, we stand ready to advance a new way of being and caring into schools across America and eventually to schools around the world.

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As a State Legislator from the Berkshires in Massachusetts I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Yvette Jackson and my life long friend Dr. Michele Rivers Murphy for over a year now regarding this very topic. They have become great mentors to me as I push an historic initiative called "Shared Services" which will bring together schools and communities to share best practices in order to enhance and streamline services, provide greater efficiencies while savings taxpayer dollars. Dr's Rivers Murphy and Jackson have been at the forefront of this and we are already experiencing wonderful results. As populations decline and the poverty rate increases these types of ideas will allow ALL students, regardless of economic status, equal access to education which is the baseline for future prosperity.  When leaders lead, not only for today, but for the next generation great things can happen. 
Smitty
State Representative

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Smitty,
Michele and Yvette both speak highly of you. Your support and encouragement have been instrumental to the inroads we are making in MA. We so appreciate the time you took to add your important note of encouragement as we continue on this journey to change minds, change cultures, heal hearts, and change lives. @edimprove

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Looks like a great model addressing the whole child, caring for children, + childhood wellbeing! 

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Lindsay,
Thanks for your note. A lot of effort has gone into developing this model and we are ready now for Phase II, broader use, demonstration projects, and evaluation.

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I love this!

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Chris is passionate about Heart Centered Learning and has established an amazing connection with principals and principal leaders. Congrats on the Pioneer Award and best wishes going forward with this important work!

Gail Connelly, Executive Director NAESP

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Gail,
It has been an honor to continue to collaborate with NAESP and its leaders.  I really believe that NAESP members are some of the finest principals in the country and as you know I am trying to connect with principals who are ready for a bold next step. I so believe that principal involvement is pivotal to both educational reform and deep societal change.  Your leadership and support have been inspirational!

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Young ones need to be loved and embraced by a caring environment to prevent disenfranchised adults with little hope and less love in their broken hearts.

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Lynne, that is the big picture!  Thanks for understanding the urgency of our work!

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As schools, districts and states go further down the path known generically as "accountability," we risk losing our humanness and humaneness for the sake of preparing students for tests, and for working-life in a global economy. Students who may feel on the fringes already due to many things about them, are at even greater risk of being further marginalized if we do not adopt approaches to education that recognize that all change begins with the development of the heart, the body and the mind together. We work to approach big societal challenges in education--but sometimes miss that often big answers begin in young hearts.

The work that CEI is doing allows our age of accountability (which is necessary and worthy) to join hands with the very real fact that we work with flesh and blood young people with needs, dreams, desires and abilities they may not even recognize yet. The work of Chris and her team gives schools and teachers permission to approach the challenges that confront educators with the recognition that individuals--whole individuals matter--and that intellectual development is only enhanced by emotional development and community development. Self-actualized adults will grow from children who develop in a pedagogical context that embraces that schools must be accountable not only for academic outcomes--but also for the outcomes attached to the notions of being an empathetic, committed, strong member of the larger community.

The work that Chris, Michele, Yvette and company are doing has the potential to improve individual lives--but also holds the promise of improving neighborhoods, and entire communities. This work that embraces the head, the heart and the guts (courage, self-confidence, etc.) hold out real hope for really making education matter beyond what graduates know and can do. The marriage of hard science and heart science holds great promise for the futures of children and their communities.

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Jake as a Superintendent you certainly have seen the need the major initiative we are proposing, particularly for children in underserved communities. Michele, Yvette, and I appreciate the audience we have had with you, and your strong support for our work. I love your phrase, "The marriage of hard science and heart science"  that is what we are about. Look forward to continuing our journey down this path together.

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A heart-centered approach to academic achievement is the most important, however, often missed aspect of teaching. CEI's focus on mindfulness connects many and CEI's constant collaboration with surrounding communities shows its ability to reach many. CEI's focus on mindfulness has resonated deeply with me, especially as I consider the effect of my instructors on my learning. My instructors who practiced a more heart-centered approach encouraged me to perform well, aim high, and succeed farther than my own expectations. I will never forget the instructors who supported my successes along the way. If CEI's heart-centered approach can reach more instructors, more children will be encouraged to to perform well, aim high, and succeed farther than their own expectations.

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Vanessa,
Thank you for your comment. This is what Phase II is all about. Increasing the spread, the use, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of our evidenced-based approach. CEI is well-positioned for this work and we are excited by the possibilities that the Pioneer recognition brings.

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I love your focus on the whole child. Schools these days are too focused on academics, testing, and standards at the expensive of acknowledging the whole child and his or her needs. "We envision schools where communities work to expand children's wellbeing, resilience, problem-solving skills, and sense of safety and security." I love that you're focusing more on yoga and mindfulness, and I have found it to be useful in my own life. I've read a lot of research lately on how mindfulness and meditation have numerous positive effects on the brain, including increased impulse control, emotional regulation, social understanding, conflict resolution skills, and health, as well as decreased stress. Meditation can actually change the brain's structure and increase memory. Teaching students early about meditation and its positive effects can help them integrate it into their daily lives, creating happier, healthier, and more in tune citizens. 

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Meghan, thank you for mentioning the importance of yoga, mindfulness, and meditation. There is significant research demonstrating that children in trauma or who have experienced significant trauma often become stuck in a cycle of reliving the trauma and seeking to escape it. In essence, their brains are hi-jacked by the amygdala which is constantly on-guard. With the tools of neuroscience, and yoga/mindfulness/meditation teachers and students can apply a technology that takes advantage of the brain's neuroplasticity. This is particularly useful during a child's developmental years. However, it is a process that takes time and effort. With the support of #childrenswellbeing and hundreds of dedicated practitioners, principals, teachers, and communities, our intent is to restructure teacher-child interactions to acknowledge the pain children are feeling and to help form a secure base to reframe events and reshape lives.

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As a CEI Research Associate and Consultant, I can attest that CEI's 21st-century heart centered approach is one key solution to promising futures, closing the achievement gap, and providing hope for this generation of students. With increasing poverty, trauma and a myriad of stressors attached to such living conditions negatively impacting children's lives and impeding their ability to learn-- a more comprehensive and balanced approach to how we educate is required. It is no longer sufficient to concentrate solely on academics.  If we are to change the trajectory of children's lives then we must also address the social-emotional health and well-being of our students.  CEI's heart centered approach does just that. And, a defining distinction between CEI's signature heart centered approach and a social-emotional program is that CEI's heart centered approach is a not a program but rather a way of life-- a systematic culture change in the way we educate, behave (interact) and act to change the trajectory of children's lives by educating with both our heart and mind to ensure positive health and well-being for all children.

Perhaps, Dr. Mason could talk more about this defining difference between the isolation of implemented school and classroom-based programs and CEI's heart centered, all-encompassing whole child-centered community education approach that involves all stakeholders, students, parents, educators and community members in collective action to educate each and every child. This is an important distinction since so many teachers are overwhelmed with the thought of "one more program or thing to add to their plate." 

I have observed first-hand CEI's heart centered signature approach to educating the whole child. CEI's approach demonstrates our ability as educators, parents, and community to improve the social, emotional, health and well-being of our students when we collectively work to unlock their potential through educating both the heart and minds of our students.  
Michele

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Michele,
Thank you for joining in on this conversation. If I hadn't have been restricted by # of characters, I would have certainly inserted more about you as well as the ideas you mention. Let me begin by recognizing not only your contribution to the heart centered ideas, but your contributions as a co-author for the upcoming book with Dr. Jackson. Michele you are so right, to be truly impactful, heart centeredness can not be relegated to 30 minutes 3x a week. We view it as a paradigm shift, not only for schools, but through the many outreach activities that are part of the approach, for communities as well. Due to the support of Thrivist/ClassGather these concepts are embedded in the CEI Tools that are part of our approach. For those non-educators in the #childrenswellbeing initiative, let me simply say that in education there is a saying that if you can't count it, it doesn't count. We believe children's health and well-being matters, therefore we have developed a tool to help communities of educators within their own communities vision, plan for, implement, and refine what really counts.

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Christine
I'm responding to your recent note - our exchange isn't listed here. I'm very interested in learning more about what you are doing in schools in VA. I think reading a description of the program or "rubric" is a first step to achieving a sound grasp of your framework/model/approach.  Would you share a copy of your 55 page document on the rubric? I tried to link to it on-line - unsuccessfully. Here is my email address" maud@his.com.  

Are you familiar with Dr. Pam Cantor's initiative in schools in NYC, Newark and DC - TurnAround for Children? When I have an email address for you I will share a couple of papers and a project document - Building Blocks for Kids. I'd be interested in creating an opportunity for people working in this area to come together and talk/think about how we can rethink the paradigm of what an elementary school is in urban high poverty communities. 

I think your program is a strong competitor in the Child Wellbeing Project. 

My Best
Maud 

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Maud,
I look forward to working more closely with you. I have forwarded a link to a webinar explaining our tool ( https://classgather.com/resources/webinars/). I hope to learn more about your work in the next few days!
Best,
Chris

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The following quote says it all..."The children we are teaching will only thrive and flourish when we meet children where they are; when we teach with a full realization of how to mindfully instruct in a way that pulls each child into the excitement of learning, and when we build neural pathways that help children overcome trauma and expand their confidence and self-esteem."  Many new initiatives have arisen to help strengthen and evaluate teachers’ ability to increase student achievement. However most are  mainly aimed at analyzing their content knowledge and ability to help students demonstrate that they understand content deeply, can solve open-ended problems, and can justify their responses.  The problem with solely focusing on this approach is that maximizing academic achievement among students is predicated on teachers possession of compassion for, and consciousness of who their students are!  Few tools have been created to specifically train and evaluate educational institutions on a holistic approach such as this.  CEI's approach is exactly what is needed for 21st century education.

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Orinthia,
Appreciate your support.  At CEI we are working with teams of excellent trainers, researchers, writers, scientists, and others to bring the needed supports to schools to help implement such a holistic approach! There is a solid research base supporting our tool and  we are guided by many exemplary principals. We are entering a phase where we are focusing on distribution, creating greater buy-in, and seeking demonstration sites so that we can collect additional evidence supporting this approach.

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As CEI/Dr. Mason's partners at ClassGather, we love her approach. Our evaluation software has huge application in Special Education classrooms across the country and the rubric they've developed really falls right in step with the spirit of our software. At our core is helping improve teacher practice and helping learners thrive and having CEI's rubric and toolset as a part of our solution is huge. Focusing on the whole child can only help teachers and students as they progress on their education journey. 

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It is refreshing to see a focus on the whole child. We tend to focus on the academic at the expense of the social and emotional growth of students. Your work will benefit the wider community and afford principals and professionals opportunities to refocus on the whole child. The heart-centered strategies will make a difference because it is all about a process rather than a product. Thanks for your persistence and inspiration!

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Michael,
I have a feeling we are kindred spirits. Thanks for your support!

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As the Director of the Graduate School of Education, Willamette University (retired), the focus of this program was something I described as the true purpose of education, that each teacher's real job was to pass on the best of who they were as a human being. The highest goal of teaching is to develop our students into good human beings with all the positive attributes that will result in personal happiness and contributing to our collective social well-being.  This program is providing schools with the specifics needed for educators to become conscious about their efforts to implement and monitor what they are doing as individuals and as a school to further the goal of creating good people. Historically, education had two functions - helping students develop their moral code while learning the 3-Rs. We've shifted away from teaching how to act responsibility in society with the current focus on testing, and we are seeing the result in the daily news. This is IMPORTANT work.

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Thanks John. Appreciate your support!

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I taught students with learning difficulties for seven years and during that time saw up close the impact that trauma has on a child's ability to learn and thrive. Providing educators with the means for helping children learn mindfulness techniques to circumvent or counter traumatic experiences can unleash  children's potential in positive ways. If ignored, a traumatized child is often doomed to a repetition of the violence and dysfunction around them, as we educators know all too well. I certainly hope the CEI program receives enough support to become established in many school districts around the nation and the world. Everyone benefits in this scenario, both the children and the wider community.

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Britt,
Thank you for your years of service and your strong advocacy. We believe it will take a substantial coordinated effort to overcome the decades of trauma and generational trauma and abuse before we can see a dramatic drop in violence. We need supporters like you!

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Wow, these are very impressive goals and achievements! Imagining this heart-centered learning strategies and therapy certainly transforms education's purpose. I would like to see this implemented on a large-scale and then see how it affects children's outlooks on life. With the mainstream style of education, children seem to be focused more on results rather than their growth as an intellect. I wish you the best in your endeavors, CEI! 

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Jordan,
Thank you for taking time to give us some feedback. We are looking forward to gearing up to large scale implementation.

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CEI has developed a rubric, that guides teachers on how to engage students on a deeper level: through academic engagement, the arts, forming positive mindsets, building empathy through compassion and having the courage to see through trauma. Collectively, the CEI collaborative rubric offers teachers, and their principals, a guiding light on how to build a classroom that fosters self-determination and a welcoming school culture. As a consultant in high trauma, high poverty schools, I can testify that CEI has created a brilliant template to bring calm, support and hope in struggling neighborhoods and the schools that serve them.

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Suzan,
Thank you for your review. We believe this rubric is a gem and that work such as yours in high trauma, high poverty schools, is essential to building a brighter future for many.

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This is a sound model to engage principals and teachers in deeply understanding the importance/ responsibility of their positions in solving part of the problems of urban violence. We need to integrate this kind of model into graduate and under-graduate education programs. This should not be just a program - it should be a paradigm for rethinking what a school is in urban communities. Turnaround for Children is a similar model.

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Maud, Love the idea and would welcome help with this! It is such a huge task just to get to teachers and principals in schools, let alone get to the teacher prep programs.

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Yes, yes, yes!  Learning isn't just about teaching history and math, it's about social and emotional development.  A potential partnership opportunity for this model is a mentoring program.  The partnership between a positive teacher in school and a positive adult relationship out of school is win win.  Resources in urban schools are lacking in general...and once kids fall through the cracks, it's tough for them to catch up.  This is a proactive model for change, more of these are needed!  

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Leanne, Appreciate the thumbs up! I too have worked with mentoring, both for teachers, and also principals. I agree with the many benefits of mentoring.

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This project provides a tool for measuring the connection between educational activities and the social and emotional learning that paves the way for academic achievement. CEI's initiative provides an educational component that is greatly needed in schools in low-income communities where violence, bullying and home-based stress is higher and parent-child interaction is lower. As an education consultant and co-author of books on educational equity issues and best classroom practices, I support CEI's conclusion that teachers -- with sufficient feedback on the impact of class activities -- can make a difference. In addition, CEI has pilot sign-ups in many states and has the capacity to grow the initiative via its communications and training associations with the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

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Team

George, thanks for your caring. We are set to move forward thanks to the insights of people like you.

Photo of Christine Mason
Team

Alleta,
Thanks for your support! We need more innovative principals like you who can help set the pace for others.

Photo of Alleta Baltes
Team

With the new reauthorization of ESSA and current poverty research emphasizing controlling children's stress in order to learn, this project is s full package. We need to consider the whole student and create environments that compensate for what students lack at home. Supportive, encouraging curriculum such as this is exactly what is needed in schools today. I have been in education since 1981 and this is the most exciting project I have seen yet. Highly, highly think it covers everything you are looking for and wish it was in every school  

Photo of Alleta Baltes
Team

An incredible vision and project. The focus is changing current educational practices and having a vision for the future. Equity for equal access for all students, socio-emotional well being, and 21st Century Skills are so critical for our students today. Teaching creation, problem solving and critical thinking skills are so very important. This project is exactly what you are looking for. Highly recommend this project.