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Grand Island, NE 68802
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Staff receives mindfulness training on managing behavior issues

Sometimes, you have to step back and be in the moment in order to manage stress.

That’s part of what Grand Island Public Schools counselors, social workers, psychologists and behavior consultants had a training about Wednesday at Bosselman’s Event Center. Janie Pfeifer Watson, a licensed social worker, mental health practitioner and founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, led the training.

Mindfulness is a process of bringing your attention to experiences happening in the present moment. Mindfulness can be practiced through meditation.

Dr. Robin Dexter, associate superintendent, said Social Emotional Learning, which includes mindfulness, refers to the skills and knowledge that students need to effectively communicate, interact with peers, resolve conflicts and manage their emotional responses to stressful situations.

“The data gathered through the GIPS strategic planning process identified the need to provide staff with the skills to teach and model strategies in the classroom to ensure a safe learning environment and to decrease the number of students pulled out for behavior interventions,” Dexter said.

GIPS staff receive training on mindfulness

GIPS staff learned how to be present with each of their senses. Pfeifer Watson also talked about the benefits of mindful meditation, which can improve relationships, focus, immune system and can help fight depression. Staff did several exercises, including a breathing exercise to be calm.

Gregg Bieber, a school psychologist at Grand Island Senior High, said he enjoyed the breathing exercise most.

“It’s easy to do, wherever you are. You can do that and nobody really has to know,” Bieber said.

Bieber said he remembered a session about self care that was offered during the summer institute. He related that session to the mindfulness training.

Staff receive mindfulness training

The training helped equip the counselors, social workers, psychologists and behavioral specialists with ways to help manage stress and to care for themselves so they aren’t worn out. They will eventually pass those skills on to teachers and students to help them, too.

Jaynie Goodbody, a school psychologist at Walnut, said a big takeaway from the training for her was that she can manage her own stress level and that stress can be used in a positive way.

“It doesn’t have to be that if ’m stressed I become overwhelmed and I shut down,” Goodbody said. “It can be seen as a positive thing. By being mindful and managing my stress, I can learn how to be more present and more aware in my role.”

Goodbody said the skills learned at the mindfulness training are important to pass on to those in the school buildings. She said those skills can help students feel more in control of their own stress, and even the things they can’t control.

“In order to teach students how to be more mindful, we have to do that ourselves,” Goodbody said.

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