Engaging a School Community with Mindful Moments


MORRISTOWN, NJ - At The Peck School in Morristown, parents (in addition to students) are learning that the practice of mindfulness improves cognitive abilities and increases brain density in areas associated with improved attention, learning, self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, happiness, and compassion.

At the forefront of this movement is Peck’s Mindfulness Trainer Suzy Becker. This past December she held a four-week course exclusively for parents entitled, “Introduction to Mindfulness.” The workshop not only presented neurological and psychological studies supporting the tremendous benefits of mindfulness, but also taught parents specific mindfulness techniques and introduced them to online and offline tools that support a practice of mindfulness.

For this parent session, an emphasis was placed on the importance of self-care and self-compassion. According to Becker, “We are often our own worst critic, setting much higher expectations for ourselves than we would for a dear friend or family member.  By giving ourselves the gift of stillness and providing an opportunity to bring full attention to sensations in our body, we can calm the mind and reduce self-judgement.”

Sign Up for E-News

Parents also learned that human beings are born with a “happiness set point” that mostly remains constant throughout life. Major external events – whether positive or negative – such as winning the lottery or becoming paralyzed in an accident cause only a temporary spike in happiness or depression. Research has shown that eventually most individuals regulate back to the “happiness set point” they were born with.

Changing the interior landscape of our minds and bodies, on the other hand, through mindfulness training, can actually shift and improve our level of happiness permanently. This increase in happiness is attributed to neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections. As the saying goes, “We are what we think” and mindfulness practice offers an opportunity to form new patterns that facilitate lifelong learning and character development.

The definition used for mindfulness within the Peck community is, “Mindfulness is paying attention to the here and now, with curiosity and kindness.” To be “mindful,” one must be open and aware of their surroundings, feelings, sensations, and responses. Curiosity is a trait that reaps benefits in Peck’s student-centered, design thinking focused curriculum. Kindness is a trait that bolsters Peck’s mission and values and the school motto, “Consideration of Others.”

Several dozen parents attended the special workshops and the sessions will become an annual offering at the school. This will be in addition to mindfulness workshops and exercises that the school incorporates into Peck students’ academic routine. “I am so pleased that Peck is offering mindfulness training for parents, as well as students. I am a huge fan! Attending the workshops has truly been a life changing experience for me,” reports Joane Patrick, parent of Peck Grade 8 student Owen Patrick and Peck alumnus Jonathan Patrick ’15.

The New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS) invited Ms. Becker and Peck’s School Psychologist, Dr. Zan Struebing, to present a workshop at their recent conference.  Their session, entitled “Mindful Moments, Engaging Your School Community” introduced fellow educators to the benefits of mindfulness, shared mindfulness exercises, and helped participants identify steps to facilitate implementation of mindfulness programs in their own schools.

Becker is a certified mindfulness instructor with the Mindful Schools Organization ( She also serves as Peck’s Technology Support Specialist and Registrar. As a staff member involved constantly with modern technology, she offers her students this quote by Anne LaMotte: “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… including you.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Millburn/Short Hills

Millburn Recreation Accepting Memberships for Pool, Tennis and Golf

February 19, 2018

MILLBURN, NJ - The Millburn Township Recreation Department announced that it is accepting memberships for the township pool, tennis and golf facilities. The memberships are available to all Millburn Township residents and the applications are available online.

The membership application can be accessed at or go ...

Letter to the Editor: New Jersey’s Out-of-Network Bill is a Huge Blow to the Middle-Class

April 8, 2018

As Trenton currently looks to balance the budget, once again it’s our state’s hardest working citizens who will be left holding the bag. This time, though, it will be the hardworking office and ancillary staff from our small business private medical practices.  A bill called “The Out-of-Network Consumer Protection Bill” A-2039/S-485 looks poised to make ...

Upcoming Events


Wed, April 25, 2:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Pierre-August Renoir: The Joys of Life at ...


Wed, April 25, 2:00 PM

Millburn Free Public Library, Millburn

Pierre-August Renoir: The Joys of Life

Arts & Entertainment


Wed, April 25, 6:00 PM

Millburn Public Library, Millburn

Millburn Library Hosts CASA Volunteer Information ...

Giving Back Law & Justice


Thu, April 26, 11:00 AM

Bow Tie Cinema , Millburn

Encore Presentation of the 2018 Millburn Film Fest

Cardinal Tobin to Speak at B’nai Jeshurun

April 23, 2018

Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Short Hills, will welcome Cardinal Joseph Tobin on Wednesday, May 2nd at 7:00 pm.  Cardinal Tobin currently serves at the head of the Archdiocese of Newark. Members of the community are invited to hear Cardinal Tobin speak about how Pope Francis is forging a culture of encounter by renewing the dialogue between Christians and Jews.  In the pope’s ...

Middle School Presents Shrek the Musical, April 27-29

Middle School presents Shrek the Musical, April 27-29

The Millburn Middle School Spring Musical, Shrek the Musical, will be held on Friday, April 27th and Saturday, April 28th at 7 p.m.  A Sunday matinee will be presented at 1 p.m. on April 29th.

Shrek the Musical opened on Broadway in December 2008. It is based on the DreamWorks Animation’s film Shrek and William Steig’s ...

Millburn Road Closures for April 20

MILLBURN, NJ - Parsonage Hill Road closed between Long Hill Drive and White Oak Ridge Road until approx 4:00pm Officers working

Troy Drive closed to all traffic between Lawrence Drive and Troy Lane until approx 4:00pm Officers working

Old Short Hills Road has a changed traffic pattern between Silver Spring Road and Dorison Drive no closures expect possible delays until approx 4:00pm ...