6th Grade PARCC begins 4/28
WMS / PTO Newsletter
April 25, 2016
Message from Principal Gavron

As an avid runner and soccer player I had real reservations when my college roommate,  a practicing family physician, recommended trying yoga to relieve chronic neck pain.  I  could not imagine myself enjoying a form of exercise that was confined to a 2 x 6 foot  mat. Two and a half years later, I find that I am hooked and deliberately carve out time  to practice yoga regularly.  Not only does my neck feel better, but the mind-body  connection that yoga fosters has offered me an unexpected sense of peacefulness.   The shivasana or corpse pose where one integrates the practice of yoga through  meditation or rest is the most fulfilling aspect of the yoga practice for me.  That is  probably why I was so intrigued when Dr. Amy Parker approached me with her  wonderful idea for writing a meditation and mindfulness professional development grant  to the Wayland Public School’s Foundation. She had my full support and the  Foundation’s too.

How did the idea come to be?
Both parent and student surveys have identified stress (social and academic) as a 
source of concern for WMS students.  In addition to considering ways we might reduce 
students’ stress, we sought ways we might build students’ skillsets for managing the 
stress that inevitably occurs in life.  Having worked to supervise psychology interns who 
had backgrounds in meditation, Amy had seen first hand how transformative meditation 
could be for her students who experience significant anxiety.  Through meditation, kids 
grew their ability to breathe through panic and reduce their physical symptoms of 
headaches and stomachaches.  Amy envisioned the benefits meditation could have for 
students and staff on a wider scale.   In order to bring it to students Amy knew that 
adults need to understand mindfulness and how to practice it themselves first.  Amy 
therefore wrote a grant to include:

 a whole staff introduction to mindfulness, 
 an in-depth 8 week course for interested staff members, 
 funds to support an expert who could help with in-class implementation 
 and a funds for a library of mindfulness resources.

What is mindfulness? 
It was important for us to build a common understanding of what mindfulness is.  
Harvard Professor and Clinical Psychologist Chris Willard, who as part of the WSPF 
grant presented to our faculty, defined mindfulness as the practice of paying attention to 
the present moment with acceptance and non-judgment.  By being present with 
experience, we release the proclivity to dwell in the past or preoccupy ourselves with 
future worries. Through mindfulness we look to step away from any internal critical voice  and be in the moment.  The following graphic Willard offered spoke volumes

Why might meditation and mindfulness help us at Wayland Middle School? 
There is a growing body of scientific evidence in the field of neuroscience showing that 
meditation not only reduces stress and anxiety, but causes positive changes in the brain 
related to improving the ability to learn, improving memory and developing empathy and 
compassion for oneself and others.  This aligns beautifully with our commitment to 
BERT – Belonging, Empathy, Respect and Trust.  Mindfulness and meditation skills 
enhance students’ abilities to develop their intellectual and social capacities and 
teachers’ abilities to teach most effectively. Here is a summary of some of the many 
benefits of meditation drawn from several sources*: 

•   calms the mind and releases physical tension

•   improves focus

•   boosts awareness and allows for control over mood

•   curbs impulsivity

•   reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety 

•   helps improve focus

•   increases emotional stability 

•   improves sleep quality, 

•   heightens feelings of compassion 

Resources you can check out:
We have compiled a list of books and websites/apps and a CD that participants in our 
meditation classes have found helpful.  You might too.

Books:
Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Resources for Kids (and Their Parents)Elise Snel
Child’s Mind: Mindfulness Practices to Help Our Children be More Focused, Calm and Relaxed – Christopher Willard
Breathe, Chill: A Handy Book of Games and Techniques Introducing  Breathing, Meditation and Relaxation to Kids and Teens – Lisa Roberts

Websites/Apps:
Insight Timer App (free) - Includes guided meditations, music, and talks as well as a 
customizable timer.
Stop, Breath & Think App (free) - Includes a variety of guided meditations, with some as  short as 3 or 5 minutes. 
Calm.com App (subscription) – a simple mindfulness meditation app offering programs  and guided meditations.

What have we learned?:
As an adult practitioner who has now meditated daily (or close to it) since early January, 
I feel a notable increased sense of calm in my day to day life. Many others who took 
part in the classes also found meditation helpful. One meditation classmate shared, 
“The meditation course allowed me to make time for myself with benefits I could not 
have imagined. On days that include meditation I am more productive, my thinking is 
clearer, and my mood and energy is much more even keeled. I continue to work on 
ways to bring mindfulness to my students and ways to scaffold mindfulness exercises 
so that all students can participate.” Another teacher offered, “In the fast past world we 
live in where students are constantly on the go, it makes a huge difference when we 
take some time to be present and recharge.  The benefit of spending the time to do a 
simple 3-5 minute meditation in the beginning of class out weighs the time lost, trying to 
refocus students throughout the lesson.” Still another teacher noted, “After I did a five 
minute mindful mediation to start the class, I got immediate positive feedback from kids 
saying,

 ‘That felt really good’
 ‘Can we do it again?’
 ‘Wow, that was very relaxing’
 ‘I loved that. I wish we could start with that way every class.’”

As you can see our early anecdotal evidence is positive.  While I am not ready to throw 
out my running shoes or my soccer cleats, I am won over to the power of meditation as 
another important tool for managing stress in my life and in the lives of many students. I 
am so grateful to Dr. Parker and the foundation for helping WMS find a little inner  peace.

Respectfully, 

Betsy Gavron

PTO Sponsors Cultural Enrichment Today!
Improv Troupe: Largemouth Bass
Largemouth Bass is a musical improv troupe from Providence RI. The members include Keith Munslow, Eric Fulford, Dave Rabinow and Casey Seymour Kim. Today they'll be performing a series of improvised scenes and games with help from the audience, as well as an improvised mini musical. Everything the students will see is going to be made up on the spot. Ask your student about it tonight!
Thanksand appreciation to our Wayland Middle School PTO for arranging this event. 

The Florence Adler 5K Walk/Run  Road Race
Come be part of a great event!
WHAT: The Florence Adler 5K Walk/Run  Road Race
WHEN: Saturday, May 7, 2016 -  Registration at 9:30 AM / Race at 11:00 AM
WHERE: Wayland Middle School
Learn more HERE.
Registration form HERE.

6th & 7th Grade Parents
Student Placement Requests
May 15 Deadline  

Considerable thought and effort are given to student scheduling here at WMS. It is a highly complex, intricate, and time-consuming process.  Parents may make specific placement requests under the following circumstances:
  • If you have concerns about a teacher based on an older sibling's experience, you may request a different teacher for your child. You may not, however, request a specific teacher.
  • If your child has had difficulty with a specific student which has negatively impacted your child's ability to learn, you may request that the children be placed in separate clusters.

To be considered, all placement requests must be sent tobetsy_gavron@wayland.k12.ma.us no later Friday, May 15and must include your child's first and last name, and grade in September. Although we will work hard to honor your request, we cannot make any guarantees.

PTO News

Middle & More Coffee
Tuesday, May 17th9:00-10:00 am

Please mark your calendars for the next Middle & More coffee,  Tuesday, May 17th , from  9:00-10:00 am . Dossie Kahn of Wayland Youth and Family Services will be joining us to talk about "Middle School Development and How to Have Conversations that Count." When and how do we foster independence in our middle school-aged children? How do we teach them to manage stress and to navigate difficult social and emotional situations? What "rules" are appropriate for this age group, and when should we let things slide? Last year, Dossie Kahn led us through an excellent discussion of these topics and more. Bring your questions and concerns, and let's talk.

If you can't join us this time, our last Middle & More for the year will be with Betsy Gavron on  Tuesday, June 14th 9:00-10:00 am . We'll discuss the year-in-review and preview the year ahead. Please contact Cathy Scholz at  cscholz89@gmail.com  if you have any questions.

Artist of the Week
Title: "Judge Me by My Size, Do You?"
Artist: Will Obar
Grade: 7
Medium: Clay, Acrylic, Found Objects
Reminders (from previous emails)

WMS Online Newspaper - new articles every Friday!

Don't forget to check out the WMS Newspaper! New articles are added every Friday. To read what's new, click here.

PARCC & MCAS Testing  Schedule
The complete 2015 PARCC & MCAS testing schedule can be found here

Upcoming Events
Upcoming Events .
ALL GRADES:
NO SCHOOL Spring Recess - Apr 18, 2016
Q4 Progress Reports - May 20 2016
NO SCHOOL - Memorial Day -  May 30 2016

7TH GRADE:
Cape Cod Trip - May 25, 26, 27, 2016   
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