Pencils down

Mindfullness program asks teachers to take care of themselves for benefit of all

Written by Laura Roddy | Photography by Visual Fusion Photographics

The statistics tell a scary tale: 80 percent of teachers report feeling disengaged in their first three years, and 50 percent leave the profession in that timeframe.

That’s why one of five initiatives of the Wichita In Mind movement has decided to focus on helping teachers keep or regain their joy and stay in their profession, with the ultimate goal of creating classrooms where students can thrive socially, emotionally and academically.

Leading the local initiative are Gina Marx, director of the graduate education program at Newman University; Dene Nelson, executive director at Discovery Place, a private early childhood program; and Glenda Wilcox, director of the head Start program for Child Start.

Wichita in Mind is a movement to help people with self-care. Scientific research has shown that mindfulness, also known as meditation, helps those who practice it with stress reduction, self-regulation and impulse control.

The program they have launched locally for teachers is called CARE: Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education.

“Ultimately, it’s to help prevent burnout,” says Nelson, whose program serves ages 12 months through kindergarten.

Nelson says the evidenced-based strategies that teachers will learn will help them regulate their emotions and reduce stress. It is especially important to early childhood education, she says, because of the research showing how critical social-emotional learning is for those ages and how significant it is to have positive relationships with caregivers.

80% of teachers report feeling disengaged in their first 3 years and 50%leave the profession in that timeframe!

The leaders of the teacher initiative note that almost all teacher in-services and development programs are geared toward helping students. however, they believe that self-care helps teachers increase their compassion and awareness. The result is a transformed and inspired classroom environment.

“We want to equip them with skills for resilience,” Marx says. “We want them to show up and be more calm and mindful right out of the chute.” To get involved in Wichita in Mind’s effort to train teachers in self care, visit

In the photos

Top to bottom:

Amber Willis (Child start, mental health/ disabilities manager)
Steven E Dunn, Ed.D. (director, school of Education, Newman University)
Dene Nelson (Discovery Place)
Justin Hawpe, Ed.D., (Special Education Coordinator USD 259 and Instructor, Newman University)

Christa Turksma, DRS
Glenda Wilcox (LCMFT, 0-5 Head Start Director)
Gina Marx Ed.D., PCC (Director, Graduate Education Program, Newman University)
Trina Morgan (Child Start, Early Childhood Sr. Manager)

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