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Mindful : October 2014
From the Inside Out: Helping Teachers and Students Nurture Resilience Linda Lantieri talks about cultivating emotional intelligence in children at mindful. org/lantieri Linda Lantieri began teach- ing in 1968 at Public School 171 in East Harlem. “I was responsible for their minds, hear ts and souls—37 kids in my classroom,” she recalls. “There was a presidential election on at the time and I didn’t want the kids asking me who I’d vote for. I was too young to vote!” The job was difficult and stressful, so from her mid-20s, meditation became a non- negotiable par t of Lantieri’s life. Her practice helped her so much that she star ted to think about how she might integrate mindfulness in her profes- sion. “I wanted to bring it into a public school environment, but I didn’t really expect it would have a place. We weren’t as open as we are now.” Lantieri became an Assis- tant Principal at her school and took positions with the New York City Board of Education. In the mid-1980s, she co-founded a learning initiative: the Resolving Con- flict Creatively Program. The program was developed to help create nur turing communities of learning that improve aca- demic success while prevent- ing violence in schools. The program was embraced around the country and is now the larg- est and longest running school program in the U.S . “Coming of age in the late 60s made most of us who were caring individuals want to be in a place where we felt we could make a difference,” says Lantieri, who was par t of the group of visionar y educators who created alternative char ter schools with specialized cur- riculums in pover ty-stricken districts. Their effor ts were detailed in Seymour Fliegel’s book Miracle in East Harlem. “I feel that education is one of the last places we can make quite a difference in young people’s lives and the future of what happens in the world.” That need to make a dif- ference really came to the fore after 9/11. On that sunny Tuesday morning in Septem- ber 2001, 200 teachers and administrators from 11 schools in the shadows of the World Trade Center shepherded their students away from Lower Manhattan—8,000 kids were delivered to safety. Dealing with the Aftermath of 9/11 In the weeks and months that followed the fall of the twin tow- ers, as the children and their teachers returned to school, Lantieri visited them. She saw how educators were struggling to keep the horror of that day from permanently damaging the kids. The anxiety in the teachers was also plain to see. The wounds were fresh. MINDFUL PROFILE Far left: Linda Lantieri. Above: Peace corner in a second grade classroom in East Harlem. Left: Lynne Hurdle- Price, staff developer for The Inner Resilience Program, teaching 8-year old Nai’im how to meditate. PHOTOGRAPHS:PORTRAITOFLINDALANTIERIBYIGNACIOGIL,INNERRESILIENCEPROGRAMIMAGESBYCAROLINAKROON 10 mindful October 2014 now