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Managing Your Mental and Emotional Health

mindfulness 365

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness can help students, families and staff live a happier and more balanced life by:

  • Increasing focus and awareness
  • Reducing anxiety and stress
  • Reducing emotional reactivity
  • Cultivating positivity
  • Increasing compassion to self and others
  • Improving relationships
child practicing mindfulness

Why Is it Important?

We now realize the fundamental role of social-emotional well-being as a direct link to academic outcomes. Learning to focus, maintaining motivation, handling the frustrations of sharing, learning, and communicating with peers are skills that depend on the student's ability to understand and manage their emotions. These are basic competencies that are crucial to the success of students as they progress through school and life. Mindfulness is highly beneficial to the well-being of students and staff...[Mindfulness tools] can make a huge difference to our mindset and to the quality of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Jeff Donald, Instructional Specialist for Mindfulness & Trauma Informed Care

Mindfulness Articles, Studies, and Calendar


  • Mindfulness in Education
  • Beyond deep breathing: A new vision for equitable, culturally responsive, and trauma informed mindfulness practice
    This study builds on previous research which demonstrates that students’ social-emotional well-being and academic success is directly impacted by a school’s climate and culture. The authors encourage integrating culturally responsive, trauma-informed mindfulness practices in the classroom to not only mitigate the distressing conditions students might experience such as anxiety and stress, but also as a way to address injustices and promote educational equity. This paper offers a new vision for culturally responsive and trauma-informed mindfulness education in middle school settings that is grounded in the principles of safety, trustworthiness, and transparency in order to create meaningful experiences for students from diverse backgrounds. Article Keywords: equity, mindfulness, social emotional learning, trauma-informed, culturally responsive practices.
  • Atención Plena en las Escuelas (Spanish language)


Opportunities for Learning & Development

CPD: Mindful Learning, Teaching, and Leading

Fall 2023 Cohort of the 8-Week series This 2-credit, 30-hour CPD course is designed for all MCPS staff members interested in integrating mindfulness practices into their work. This course explores the science behind mindfulness, including its impact on the brain, nervous system, emotional regulation, and trauma. Participants will engage in practices such as mindful movement, healthy breathing, focused attention, and reflective journaling. Additionally, the course equips educators with resources to effectively introduce these practices to their students, promoting stress reduction, emotional balance, and a positive learning environment. The course includes practice teaching opportunities and culminates in an exploration for how to lead for mindfulness at your school.

Taught by:
Carrie Vieira, Instructional Specialist, Restorative Justice Unit -
Mariana Cruz, Mindfulness Specialist -

PDO: Mindfulness for Educators

Summer 2023 Retreat This PDO course offers a foundational understanding of mindfulness education through evidence-based strategies, the neuroscience of mindfulness, guided practice and reflection, and an exploration of diverse and inclusive ways for teaching and integrating mindfulness in the classroom or any learning environment in ways that support socio-emotional learning (SEL), positive behavior intervention strategies, and academic achievement.

Taught by:
Mariana Cruz, Mindfulness Specialist -

Carrie Vieira, Instructional Specialist, Restorative Justice Unit -

PDO: Weekly Mindfulness PLC, Tuesdays 4-5PM, Zoom

The weekly PLC is an opportunity to build community, share best practices, collaboratively plan for ongoing learning and growth, serve as each other's thought partners, and practice mindfulness together. All MCPS Mindfulness Coaches, Mindfulness Educators, CPD course participants, MFE participants, Wellness Trainers, Wellness Coaches and any other MCPS staff member passionate about mindfulness are welcome to take part in the PLC. Facilitated by Mariana Cruz, Carrie Vieira and Jeff Donald, these sessions are offered Tuesdays from 4-5PM on a drop-in basis. To recieve email reminders and Zoom link:

Sign Up

PDO: Mindfulness for Educators Retreat

Summer Retreat 2023
Winter 2024 Retreat

MFE Retreat Information: Educators have the opportunity to experience a two-day mindfulness summertime retreat at the MCPS very own slice of natural beauty, the Lanthrop E. Smith Environmental Education Center as well as a 1-day winter retreat. Participants will engage in mindfulness breakout sessions for reflection, meditation, self-care, movement, and connection, increasing personal practice through mindfulness experiences such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, journaling, reflection, and communion with nature. Past retreats also included energetic experiences through a live sound bath. The retreat offers numerous opportunities to expand ones knowledge of mindfulness practices through practices, both independently and in community, as well as rest, and reset for the upcoming school year. Participants may opt for an overnight or daytime retreat experience experience. Summer 2024 dates are TBD. Well aware October newsletter featuring August 2023 retreat here.

Coordinated by:
Jeanne Johnston, French Immersion Teacher, Sligo Creek Elementary School -

Well Aware: Mindful Mondays with Carrie Vieira

Mindful Mondays are weekly mindfulness classes open to all MCPS staff, retirees, and their families to practice gentle movement, breathwork, and meditation. They are held every Monday (except for holidays) via Zoom from 5:15-6:00 PM. Click here to join the mailing list or email Carrie Vieira at for more information.

mindful mondays

Well Aware: In-Person Yoga & Mindfulness for staff with Carrie & Mariana

Well Aware: Restorative Yoga & Yoga Nidra and Playful Flow & Morning Meditation with Jeanne Johnston

Yoga & Yoga Nidra happens on Tuesdays at 8PM.
Playful Flow & Morning Meditation happens on Fridays at 8AM.
To connect:
Or dial: (US) +1 240-587-5791 PIN: 353053561#

To receive weekly reminders:

Sign-up here

Mindfulness Spotlight

Students Corner: Visionaries

Students from Angela Norwood's Mindulness Class at Briggs Chaney

Educator's Corner: Highlights

Julie BennerJulie Benner, Health, P. E., & Mindfulness Teacher
Sligo Middle School

How do you define mindfulness?

I define mindfulness by being in the moment and in the flow. Mindfulness takes one to a place of serenity and calm.

What kinds of activities and techniques do you incorporate into your mindfulness class curriculum? Have you observed any notable positive changes or impacts resulting from the implementation of these practices?

Some activities students do in mindfulness class are breathing techniques, thinking about their thinking and doing various types of meditations.

Students notice they feel differently after doing the meditations and like feeling calmer. Students are more aware in social situations to think about pausing before responding when they are feeling stress. Students know they have options before responding.

What are three practical recommendations for educators looking to integrate more mindfulness into their classroom practices?

My first recommendation is to start small at the beginning of class by having a check in with students with how they are feeling and what's on their minds.

Next, it helps to center students with a "mindful moment" on the board to calm students before starting a lesson. These moments take about 1 minute to do. My third recommendation is to play background music to calm students.

Outside of your teaching responsibilities, what pursuits or activities bring you the greatest sense of happiness and satisfaction?

Activities that bring me the greatest sense of happiness and satisfaction are being with family and getting outside in nature. There is something about being outside and active that centers me.

Is there anything else you would like included in your Spotlight?

Ms. Sarah Natale, Media Specialist at Sligo MS, is a certified yoga instructor. Ms. Natale leads yoga with my mindfulness classes a couple times each marking period. Mr. Isaiah Chambers and Mr. Moussa Cherif, guidance counselors at Sligo MS, do mindfulness activities to help students relax and calm down. Both counselors encourage breathing techniques to calm them before working through student's concerns. Mr. Chambers had a Mindfulness Staff Meeting for staff. Staff were able to pick their activities from yoga, to coloring and sport's activities to being part of a quiet reading room.

Community Corner: SPOTLIGHT

Mariana CruzMariana Cruz, Mindfulness Specialist & Founder of SageSight Wellness

Born in Puerto Rico and based in Washington, D.C., Mariana is deeply committed to nurturing wellness, well-being, and inclusion in all aspects of life. With expertise in Wellness, Mindfulness, and DEl, Mariana has worn various hats over the years, particularly in education, spanning both higher education and K-12.

Her instructional portfolio includes teaching undergraduate courses in education, LatinX studies, and gender studies, as well as implementing mindfulness practices in K-12 classrooms and providing training to educators in mindfulness-based instruction and leadership, notably within MCPS through a multi-year grant partnership with Yogi Tea Co. and Y.O.G.A. for Youth. In addition to her instructional roles, Mariana has also held leadership positions in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in higher education, where she has made meaningful contributions to advancing inclusive and equitable programs and practices.

Mariana's educational background includes an M.S. in Education from Cornell University, an M.A. in Government & Women and Gender Studies from Texas Woman's University, and a B.A. from the University of Puerto Rico. Currently completing a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) with a focus on Health and Wellness, Mariana is driven by her passion for staying informed about the evolving research landscape in educational leadership.

Certified in yoga education, mindfulness-based stress reduction, organizational development, worksite wellness, and workplace mindfulness, among other areas, Mariana brings a comprehensive skill set to her collaboration with MCPS and her role as founder of SageSight Wellness.

Mindfulness Resources


Be Well Videos

meet our team  

Meet Our Team

  • Kahlil Kuykendall, Mindfulness Educator
  • Mariana Cruz, Mindfulness Educator
  • Carrie Vieira, Instructional Specialist, Restorative Justice Unit
  • Jeffrey Donald, Instructional Specialist for Mindfulness and Trauma Informed Care

Contact Us

Yogi Tea has partnered with MCPS in supporting Mindfulness in our schools.

Yogi Tea’s Mission statement of “Feel Good, Be Good, Do Good” is personified by their alliance with our Mindfulness program, and we are honored by their commitment to the emotional growth of our students, staff members and communities.

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