In the afternoon, you might see St. Luke’s Episcopal School (SLES) students sitting in middle level English teacher Jen Wentlandt’s classroom with their eyes closed, quietly breathing. This is exactly what they should be doing.
The new class, Health and Wellness is offered to all SLES 4th-8th grade students, who attend in small, multi- grade level groups. One of the great strengths and hallmarks of a SLES education is our holistic vision of educating the mind, body, and spirit of each child here. Our new, innovative Health and Wellness class embodies this integrated learning ethos. Once a week, students meet with Mrs. Wentlandt to learn about mindfulness, self-reflection, nutrition, peer relationships, conflict resolution, and practical skills for physical, social, and emotional well-being. Through class discussions, journaling, research, and documentaries, our students become better equipped to address the myriad of stresses and challenges of adolescent and adult life. This is one tangible example of the breadth and depth of a St. Luke’s education.
Studying mental health, mindfulness, and wellness has strong, long-lasting benefits for people of all ages, including young people. “The pre-teen and teen years are marked with significant and unique stressors, including identity and self image, peer pressure, parent and teacher expectations, social media, you name it,” says Mrs. Wentlandt. “Research shows that practicing mindfulness literally rewires the brain to become more powerful and able to concentrate. It can also decrease the likelihood of experiencing depression and anxiety.”
SLES students are experiencing positive results after just a few classes. “I love our class! Mrs. W has a passion for mental health and she puts a lot of thought into making sure we stay healthy. A healthy brain and a healthy heart will help us to be better and happier students,” says SLES 8th grader Irene Sheerin.