What do a school psychologist from New York, a boy named Ken from the Dominican Republic, a girl named Jazmin, and a boy named Jared all have in common? During the summer of 2018, they all found themselves at Fundación Niños de María in Quito, Ecuador.
Fundación Niños de María is a private Catholic school in Ecuador. Students who attend come from public schools where they used to experience academic failure and where the ratio was often one teacher to 45 students. Niños provided a safe and often year-round educational experience for some of Quito’s most vulnerable students. For a student like Ken, whose family had recently relocated from the Dominican Republic, much about Niños, and Ecuador in general, was new. Jazmin had gone unnoticed at her last school and was quite shy, and Jared’s teacher shared that, while domestic violence was a part of his home life, he was usually upbeat and talkative.
Posted in: Global Engagement, Highlights
As midterm exams approached, students in AC’s Upper School prepared in a number of ways. Three of our Collaborative Blocks were devoted to learning new strategies for relaxation, stress management, and nutrition.
Students learned about meditation and mindfulness from Mallory Gregor, our Lower School art teacher, and Rebeka Radna-Crasta, our school counselor. Mrs. Gregor shared medical research about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation on the mind and body. She also led a short guided meditation to help students attend compassionately to their thoughts and emotions while maintaining awareness in the present moment.
Ms. Radna-Crasta led an activity during which students interacted with their five senses. Activating these senses can help the brain to focus and be more mindful. She shared the following interactive materials to cover each sense:
- Touch: kinetic sand, Play-Doh, paint in a plastic bag, sponges
- Scent: Tea, basil, lavender, and rosemary
- Sight: Mind jar (a mason jar filled with water), dish soap, and glitter
- Sound: Singing bowl
- Taste: Raisins (guided eating, where students slowly and mindfully ate the raisin)
The alternating sessions offered a choice between open gym and yoga simultaneously. The yoga instructor, Carla Anselm, taught students how to use movement to decompress. Students in the open gym area played basketball and soccer. Studies show that physical and mental stimulation can help increase serotonin (the brain chemical that produces happiness) and activate long-term memory.
During exam week students participated in making their own brain food at a trail mix bar. They were provided with a number of healthy ingredients that they could choose from and mix together to sustain their brains during exams.
AC would like to thank the PE staff, Diana Gleeson, Lori Wun, Diane Broberg, Kristin Merriman, Amy Rudich, Rebeka Radna-Crasta, and Mallory Gregor for organizing these activities for our students.
Posted in: Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School