The Michigan Collaborative for Mindfulness in Education (MC4ME) is a non-profit organization dedicated to making a difference in education through awareness and training of mindfulness practices. We are growing a professional network of educators and intervention professionals in Michigan who have a passion for cultivating and teaching skills in mindfulness and compassion to students, families, and educators. We are committed to supporting our schools to develop mindful dialogue and practices that will build a circle of safety, inclusivity and equity for people of color. Learning and working together, we carry a vision for “compassionate and mindful school communities where all students thrive” deeply in our hearts.
Our commitment to meeting racial equity and social justice through mindfulness and compassion
Our children and school communities deserve an inclusive and equitable world that recognizes our collective gifts and common humanity. We are saddened by the pain caused by systemic racism and stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. We commit to taking compassionate action that will help our friends of color, colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances and students feel safe and know that they belong. We will respond with mindful awareness to racist speech or behaviors that we witness. We commit to examining our own thought patterns and behaviors that may be implicitly communicating racial insensitivity or harm. In our programming, we intend to explicitly explore the intersection of mindfulness and race. By embracing these steps, we will contribute to advancing racial equity and social justice in the communities we serve.
Our board first came together in Spring of 2013 to explore how we could bring our passion and expertise in mindfulness to reach the current and future generation of children. We decided that reaching schools and supporting teaching and intervention staff to bring these practices to students would be the best strategy, We were determined to makes sure that the training programs we offered would be secular, rooted in scientific evidence, and informed by our personal experience and extensive training that several of us already had. We also were committed to serving schools outside our suburban communities, targeting urban areas where there were less resources.
In 2014, we became an official 501(3)(c) organization. We launched our first event with a showing of the film, “Room to Breathe”, followed by a panel presentation of teachers and students. Over 200 persons attended.
The members of our board have their own personal practice in mindfulness along with experience in teaching, research, program development and working with staff and children in educational and mental health settings. In addition to administrative and executive oversight, several members on our board also serve on our training team. We currently rely on the good will of our board to provide many volunteer working functions. We are in process of forming an advisory education committee and are always on the look out for talented, skilled individuals who believe in our mission, practice mindfulness and want to be worker bees along with us.
Rita Benn, PhD is an accomplished teacher, and researcher. She is a clinical/school psychologist by training and has been practicing meditation since her college years. She has taught and facilitated many group-based workshops and interventions using mindfulness-based practices in the university and community. As faculty at the University of Michigan, she developed coursework, clinical electives and curriculum guides in integrative medicine, and published academic papers and chapters in this field. Dr. Benn and her colleagues published the results of a randomized trial on the influence of meditation on well-being for parents of children with special needs and school personnel.
Kristin Ervin was the founder of Got Mindfulness, LLC. and facilitates mindfulness training to primary and secondary students as well as educators in Southeast Michigan. She received her certification in Mindfulness from Mindful Schools as well as from the Mindful Education Institute where she studied in part under Jon Kabat-Zinn and Jack Kornfield. She has a BA in Interpersonal and Public Communication from Central Michigan University and has extensive training in meditation and intuitive development. It is her passion to educate kids about their inner world of thoughts and emotions by expanding the movement of mindfulness in education and social-emotional development.
Lauren Kazee, LMSW, is a licensed master’s level social worker. As a School Mental Health Consultant for both the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), she led the team at MDE in the creation of Michigan’s SEL Competencies and companion documents, school mental health policies, trainings, and the development of support resources. Currently, she provides technical assistance to Intermediate School Districts regarding their 31n funds and also works part-time for the University of Michigan TRAILS program.
Karen Rockhold Beeler, MA, originally trained as a speech and language pathologist has over 20 years’ experience working as a special education supervisor for the Oakland Intermediate School District and Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services. She has a passion for design thinking and strategic planning as it relates to developing systems and structures to support student learning, professional development of teachers and universal inclusion of children of all abilities. Karen is a skilled facilitator, manager and consultant.
Veronica Sanitate is an owner and Vice President of Ocean Organics Corp. as well as a published poet, writer and Reiki Master healing practitioner. She is on the Board of Directors of Groundcover News, an Ann Arbor newspaper that exists to create opportunity and a voice for low-income people while taking action to end homelessness and poverty. Veronica graduated from the University of Detroit, Magna cum Laude, with a teaching certificate in secondary education. She later received her Masters of Liberal Studies. She has a long-held passion for education and a strong desire to aid those who are not served by our current systems. She attended the Mindfulness in Education Conference at Omega Institute in 2011 and the Bridging Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference at UCSD in 2013.
Nancy Staub, Ed.D, recently retired from her position as an Associate Professor in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Toledo. Prior to this faculty position, she served has a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent in K-12 schools for 29 years. Nancy continues to be involved in several national and international boards of education where she promotes the importance of training in mindfulness for all children and its need to be supported by teachers and school leaders. Nancy lives in Pinckney on a lake with her husband, Jack and dog, Molly. Together, they enjoy sailing, biking, and hiking in the area.
Many thanks to our former founding members, Trice Berlinski, Sandra Finkel, MaryAnn Morris and Mary Spence, for their
service and continuing contributions to growing mindfulness in Michigan.
service and continuing contributions to growing mindfulness in Michigan.
Meditation and mindfulness techniques offer an effective way to help both students and teachers handle stress in the classroom.
I witnessed a shift in the school culture, a calmness that parents and visitors spoke of when entering our building. Mindfulness became a norm not a thing.”
– Principal K-8, Southfield Schools