Barnegat Schools Implementing MIST in Elementary Grades

Jul 25, 2018

The Maximilian Foundation is partnering with Barnegat Township School District to help its students have the tools and strength to avoid behaviors that could negatively affect the rest of their lives by bringing MIST (Mindfulness Infusion for Teachers and Students) to K-5 classrooms, reaching 1,500 students for the 2018-19 school year.

Based in Stafford Township, the foundation has presented a $2,900 check to cover the cost of implementing the program in the inaugural year.

District Superintendent Brian Latwis said mindfulness is the practice of placing attention and awareness on what is happening in the present moment without making any judgments about it. According to the foundation, mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, which helps kids prepare for learning, building self-awareness and self-esteem.

“Starting in elementary school, children can learn about the neuroscience behind mindfulness with lessons about how our brain works,” the organization says. “By using Mindfulness training, they can become more self-aware by putting their thoughts and feelings into words and developing greater self-control by remaining calm in difficult situations. They learn to treat others with empathy and compassion by developing their own sense of empathy through becoming great listeners, appreciating all the good things in their lives and passing their happiness, serenity and goodwill onto others. Mindfulness helps these kids benefit from learning how to best support their own bodies and minds.”

Latwis said the district will be working with Nate Terrell, a clinical social worker who has a private therapy practice in Mullica Hill. He is the author of Achieving Self-Compassion: Giving Yourself the Gifts of Happiness and Inner Peace.

School is not just about academics and curriculum,” said Latwis. “There are also social and emotional issues involving children, and this is an excellent opportunity to help kids who may be struggling.”

Allison Greco, a counselor at the Cecil Collins School, added, “With the drug problems in the county, we need to reach out to younger children. Hopefully our kids will develop self-esteem and have a better self-image, so maybe they won’t want to turn to drugs when they are older.”

— Eric Englund

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