ALISON'S STORY: educational equity, community-building, contemplative practice, social justice, and joy
During Alison’s 13 years as a white student attending predominantly Black public schools in Washington, D.C., she witnessed educational inequality and the cradle-to-prison pipeline on a daily basis. These experiences motivated her to become an educator.
After graduating from college and teaching in Ghana, Alison started teaching English as a New Language (ENL) and literacy in the Brooklyn public school system. During her early years, Alison began practicing mindfulness and found it transformed her teaching — and her relationship to being an educator. Mindfulness enabled her to be compassionately present with students, colleagues, and herself in ways she had not previously experienced. Alison found that mindfulness practice offered a toolkit for identifying, questioning and confronting her own biases, both implicit and explicit, so that she could best meet her students' needs in gap-closing ways. In addition to the positive effects on her personal and professional relationships, she found the practice essential to stress reduction and burnout prevention in her day-to-day life. Alison quickly became passionate about sharing the benefits of mindfulness and mindfulness-based practices with students, her colleagues, and parents.
Alison was also lucky enough to receive excellent instructional coaching from experienced NYC educators. As a result of their coaching, in conjunction with intensive training in mindfulness practice and mindset theory, Alison’s niche became teaching students who were having difficulty succeeding on the New York State English graduation exam. While working as a literacy teacher, she also founded a successful high school mindfulness program. Seeking to pay forward the coaching support she had received, she moved into the world of coaching principals and teachers. Alison is passionate about the positive impact of high-quality professional development on school community members and student outcomes.
Alison now supports people of all backgrounds, especially school community members, in skillfully and compassionately navigating their inner worlds, relationships, and daily lives. She incorporates an ever-evolving combination of practices and tools, especially restorative practices, mindfulness, mindful communication, culturally responsive pedagogy, and laughter.
University of Massachusetts Medical School Center for Mindfulness, qualified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Teacher
Mindful Schools, Certification Program in Mindfulness Education, certified Mindful Schools Instructor
International Institute for Restorative Practices, trained in Restorative Practices
Fordham University, M.A., Teaching
Harvard University, B.A., Sociology
SELECTED PAST EXPERIENCE
Summer 2016 faculty at Columbia Teachers' College Summer Principals Academy: "Self-awareness and Mindfulness Training for School Leaders: Leading from the Inside Out"
Founder and director of the Mindfulness Program at Williamsburg Preparatory High School in Brooklyn, NY
Founder and facilitator of the Williamsburg Prep Mindfulness group for educators, an after-school stress reduction group
Designer and facilitator of mindfulness classes for educational and nonprofit organizations, such as:
The Collegebound Initiative: workshop for New York City public school college counselors
The Jamaica Youth Justice Coalition: workshop for social workers and juvenile justice professionals assisting court-involved youth in Queens, NY
The Avodah Fellowship: workshop for social service professionals working in antipoverty organizations throughout New York City
Phillips Academy Andover: workshops for high school students, staff, and faculty
School for Democracy and Leadership, Brooklyn, NY: training for school staff
New York Times special feature, “Cultivating Mindfulness for Educators”
Subject of a Greenpoint Gazette article for her innovative social justice curricula: “Challenging the System: Williamsburg Prep Students Take on Wrongful Convictions”