"I teach and practice mindfulness because THESE ARE THE SKILLS I WISH SOMEONE HAD TAUGHT ME AS A CHILD, TEENAGER, OR FIRST-YEAR TEACHER. Mindfulness is a birthright and a toolkit: rather than act on autopilot, distract ourselves or suppress difficult thoughts and feelings, we can learn to skillfully show up with compassion and courage to our moment-to-moment experience. Every moment is an invitation, and each of us has the potential TO BE OUR OWN BEST TEACHER."
As a white child growing up in Washington, DC, Alison attended predominantly African American middle and high schools. She found herself asking endless questions about race, class, education, and the effects of well-intentioned adults' unexamined biases on students' school experiences and life trajectories. These would act as guiding questions as she moved into the world of teaching. After graduating from Harvard College and living and working in Ghana, West Africa, Alison moved to Brooklyn to begin her teaching career. (Read a Greenpoint Gazette article about Alison's teaching here.) During her early years as a public high school teacher, teacher advice columnist, and teacher trainer in the Brooklyn public schools, Alison began practicing mindfulness; she found it transformed her teaching, allowing her to become compassionately present with her students, colleagues and herself in ways she had not previously realized possible, and to productively question and confront her own biases, especially those about race and class, so that she could best meet her students' needs. In addition, she found that mindfulness practice was an essential stress reduction and burnout prevention tool in her day-to-day life as an educator.
Alison quickly became passionate about the role high-quality mindfulness instruction can play in closing not only the achievement gap, but also the gap in access to safe spaces that offer people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to learn how to skillfully navigate their inner world, biases, relationships, and environment. She cherishes having the opportunity to teach all members of school communities - students, school staff,and parents - how to integrate mindfulness into their lives inside and outside of the classroom, in order to lead less stressed-out lives of courage,honesty, personal growth, meaningful connection, and joy. In addition, Alison also facilitates mindfulness trainings for educational institutions, community organizations and nonprofits.
All of Alison's workshops integrate training in growth mindset, restorative practices, mindful communication, and bias awareness, with a specific emphasis on unconscious (also known as implicit or unexamined) bias.
"When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and so I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. Then my family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.” ~ Monk, 1100 AD
TRAINED as a Qualified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Teacher through University of Massachusetts Medical Center's Center for Mindfulness
CERTIFIED Mindful Schools Instructor: completion of Mindful Schools Yearlong Certification Program in Mindfulness Education
TRAINED through the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) in RESTORATIVE PRACTICES
Master's in Teaching from Fordham University
undergraduate degree in Sociology from Harvard College
Currently: Faculty at Columbia Teachers' College Summer Principals Academy - "Self-awareness and Mindfulness Training for School Leaders: Leading from the Inside Out"
Currently: Institute for Student Achievement Instructional Coach at public high schools in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Alison incorporates mindfulness and mindful communication training into her non-evaluative one-on-one coaching and group work with high school educators and school leaders.
Currently: teacher of workshops and courses for educators, social service professionals, and community groups
Previously: founder and director of the Mindfulness Program at Williamsburg Prep High School (WP) in Brooklyn. In addition to her English classes at WP, she taught all ninth and tenth graders and their English teachers an eight-week course in mindfulness.
Previously: founder and facilitator of the WP Mindfulness group for educators, an afterschool stress reduction group that continues to meet each week
As a result of her work thus far, Alison is passionate about expanding access to mindfulness, mindful communication, and bias awareness training. Please see the services section for information about how to book mindfulness sessions with Alison for your school or organization!