Transition and Closure Story – July 2017
The mission of The Inner Resilience Program (IRP) was to cultivate the inner lives of students, teachers and schools by integrating Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) with contemplative practice.
After the events of the September 11th, 2001, a group of concerned educators and mental health practitioners, including Linda Lantieri, created The Inner Resilience Program to address the needs of eleven public schools located in Lower Manhattan. IRP’s initial goal was to equip the school staff and parents of these more than 5,000 students with the necessary skills to build back their inner strength and resilience. It soon became clear that the work being implemented in schools in lower Manhattan had broader implications to the field of education in general. Public school teachers all over the city and the country were overstressed and close to burnout. Many of them needed help managing the challenges facing them inside the classroom and out. Learning to balance work and life stressors was a pervasive issue that affected teachers throughout the New York City Department of Education and nationally. As a result of this ongoing need, the program continued to thrive, moving from a focus on trauma recovery into the broader category of teacher, parent, and student wellness, including a focus on nurturing the inner lives of educators and students.
Over time, IPR not only contributed to, but was also informed by the burgeoning worldwide interest in SEL and mindfulness within education. Though IRP maintained its original focus on promoting the inner resilience of school administrators and staff, Linda Lantieri’s 2008 book, Building Emotional Intelligence: Techniques to Cultivate Inner Strength in Children, and IRP’s K-8 curriculum, Building Resilience from the Inside-Out (2009), offer specific ways for teachers to help children respond to and rebound from any challenges they may face.
Since the beginning, the implementation of IRP has included weekend residential retreats for school staff, professional development workshops, individual stress reduction sessions and parent workshops at school sites. The program also included opportunities for teachers to nurture their inner lives through weekly yoga classes and monthly sessions in which school staff were introduced to many self-care strategies including a variety of contemplative practices. IRP’s curriculum, Building Resilience from the Inside Out: Grades K-8, has been introduced to a variety of school districts across the country and Spain through a two-day training and follow-up coaching sessions. In addition, a series of five workshops entitled Skills for Life for Families offered parents and care-givers skills in social and emotional learning and mindful awareness practices.
In 2008, IRP embarked on a randomized control research study of 57 NYC teachers and 855 students to measure its effects on reducing teachers’ stress levels and classroom climate. Treatment group teachers showed a significant decrease in stress in their levels, and an increase in mindfulness and relational trust. Third and fourth grade students of teachers in the treatment group showed a significant increase in autonomy and influence and a decrease in frustration levels.
Since it began in 2002, IRP has played a critical role in helping school districts implement a systemic approach to Social and Emotional Learning with an emphasis on nurturing the inner lives of children and adults. More recently, in partnership with the Equity Assistance Center Region II, IRP held a series of retreats engaging New York principals in a restorative learning community on Equity in Education. Currently several school districts across the country are moving forward with a district-wide model of implementation inspired by the work of the Inner Resilience Program. Through the various programs of IRP, adults and students have helped to reclaim their schools as caring and mindful communities of learning.
The Inner Resilience Program received ongoing generous support from the September 11th Fund, The Red Cross, NoVo Foundation, The Kalliopeia Foundation, 1440 Foundation, The Fetzer Institute, APS Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and many dedicated individual donors including Matt Damon.
Over the last 15 years, the following staff have been key in implementing IRP’s work:
Melody Baker, Deputy Director of Programs
Carmella B’Hahn, Program Consultant
Martha Eddy, Program Consultant
Lisa Galaitas, Administrative Coordinator
Lynne Hurdle Price, Senior Program Consultant
Neeta Jain, Administrative Coordinator
Linda Lantieri, Founding Director
Charolotte Malkmus, Program Coordinator
Erica Malm, Deputy Director of Programs
Dana McCloskey, Deputy Director of Finance
Madhavi Nambiar, Deputy Director of Programs
Robin Stern, Program Consultant
IRP TRANSITION & CLOSURE
In November 2015, IRP’s Advisory Board met along with additional field supporters and IRP staff to strategize about next steps and how to best glean the learnings of these past 15 years to benefit additional educators, and to contribute to the field of contemplative education. The staff and team decided it would embark on a Transition Year,” beginning July 2016, to “honorably close” the organization by July, 2017. The process would include transitioning its work in a sustainable way to invest in the future of the field for broad impact beyond IRP. This transition would free up Linda Lantieri, to play a more fluid role in the fields of SEL and Mindfulness in Education.
Some highlights of the work Linda Lantieri is embarking on in the coming years:
- Serving as an adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University, Teachers College to help design and teach a specialty for a new Master’s Degree Program in Psychology in Education for the Spirituality Mind Body Institute. She is teaching a year-long concentration that includes a summer course titled Cultivating the Spiritual Dimension in K-12 Education, a fall course titled Schools with Spirit: Cultivating the Social, Emotional and Inner Lives of Teachers and Students and a spring practicum titled Contemplative Teaching and Learning in schools in New York City, integrating some of IRP’s work into both courses.
- Equipping staff developers in the various districts we have been working in to carry on the work on their own through a mentoring and Training of Trainers process.
- Actively assisting the Center for Contemplative Science and Compassion-based Ethics at Emory University, which is co-sponsored by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and is developing a curriculum framework on Compassion for All the World’s Children. Linda is serving as the Senior Program Advisor on this project and this curriculum framework will eventually be disseminated worldwide with pilot sites this year in several countries including the US.
- Serving as a Senior Program Advisor for the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) whose mission is to help make evidence-based Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) an integral part of preschool through high school.
- Being appointed to the Council of Distinguished Educators of the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development in 2016.