Greenhill School began offering Inner Light: Traditions and Paths of Meditation to juniors and seniors in 2009. The elective class was aimed at honing personal awareness and mindfulness, skills that help manage stress and encourage healthier choices. Soon after, recurring student feedback—“I wish I’d had this earlier”—caught the attention of Upper School administrators.
“We realized that our students need social and emotional foundations as strong as, if not stronger than, their academic foundations,” says Head of Upper School Laura Ross. “The ability to develop positive habits and effectively handle adverse situations is critical for success throughout a person’s life.”
Mrs. Ross, who now teaches one of the two full sections of Inner Light offered each year, teamed with school counselor Priya Singhvi to revitalize the entire school’s wellness curriculum, incorporating elements of personal reflection, self management, and neuroscience. Programs reinforce the belief that students who possess a strong understanding of the root causes behind human decision making and the long-term implications of choices, combined with the ability to create a space within themselves to identify and own their feelings, ultimately lead healthier and happier lives.
Another critical element in the spread and success of the programs is faculty training. Selected readings emphasizing the element of relatedness and its role in faculty-student relationships, along with gratitude exercises that give faculty the opportunity to pause within their own busy schedules, and give students the support they need as they learn how to navigate their inner and outer lives.