Dr. Joanie Terrizzi is a Mindful Schools-trained educator with more than a decade of experience as a school librarian in New York City, weaving mindfulness into her library program. She has worked with students, teachers, and families with children in Pre-K through 12th grade, as well as graduate students. Joanie works to create a sustainable whole-school model for mindfulness integration. Her passions include teacher resilience training, brain science, trauma-sensitive education environments, restorative justice, and secular mindfulness. She has studied these topics extensively for years, completed her dissertation research on children’s experiences using mindfulness in daily life, and received her doctorate in Mind-Body Medicine from Saybrook University.
That’s the professional blurb. Here’s the real deal: I discovered mindfulness at a point when I felt completely burnt out from the demands of teaching in an urban environment. The increase in resilience I felt – almost immediately – had a tremendous impact on my daily life, and I knew I needed to share it with my students. I was wary at first, wondering how my students (most of whom were homeless or living in public housing) would react. The transformation in my students was palpable, and even a colleague who was skeptical at first later said, “The tone of the school is completely different – it’s so much calmer!” Time and time again, I’ve seen these practices land really well with a teacher, a parent, and so, so many students. There was even a time when the most dysregulated student in the school ran out of the classroom… and straight to the library, where we went through a few of his favorite mindfulness exercises. I have lost track of the number of incredible stories that people (as young as 4 and as old as 83) have shared with me about how mindfulness has helped them. This work has not changed my life – my life is still as crazy as anyone’s – it has changed me, and my capacity to handle what life throws at me. This is what I want to share with you.
Joanie is a wonderful, warm, and inspiring mindfulness teacher. Not only did she teach us the basics of mindfulness, she led by example in her thoughtfulness and dedication throughout the school year.
She brought to mindful mornings a presence of mind, body, and spirit, and demonstrated self-compassion, heartfulness, and patience while she led our group sessions. Her voice and energy were always calm, and certainly infectious. Her words were obviously considered and well-chosen. She inspired many of us to practice mindfulness on our own time, and some of us even to teach mindfulness to students in the school. I cannot recommend her highly enough!
I’m so grateful for the Mindfulness program in my son’s school. The benefits of this program provide tools that will positively impact these students for their entire lives. They are taught about kindness toward themselves and others, noticing and recognizing their feelings without judgment, they learn the power of their own breath and learn to notice the details in world around them. It’s such a beneficial program I’d recommend for all schools.
Mindful Parent Mornings in the library of my daughter’s elementary school have become one of the most restorative parts of my week. Led by Joanie Terrizzi, the 30 minutes I spend exploring the ideas behind mindfulness and practicing stillness with other parents — sometimes silent, sometimes guided — never fails to re-energize me. These weekly gatherings have led me to explore a daily mindful practice that has enriched many aspects of my life, especially in the parenting realm. I find that with this regular practice, I’m able to be calmer and more present with my young kids.
According to Joanie Terrizzi, a school librarian, mindfulness hasn’t changed her life—it’s changed the way she approaches it. “I see up to 200 kids a day, and mindfulness has helped me navigate distractions and demands so I can give kids the rare gift of my full attention,” said Terrizzi. “I knew my practice was having an effect when a student was doing something I didn’t want him to do, and I turned to open my mouth and instead of my stricter teacher voice, something very soft and calm came out.”
I was simultaneously feeling the adrenaline and raw fear of witnessing a medical emergency, and a surge of immense protectiveness – wanting every one of my students to know they were safe.
During a practice evacuation drill, with our students quietly seated in the gym of another school, we had a very real code blue situation. All of a sudden an adult needed medical help. One moment the gym was silent and still, and the next, all eyes were riveted on a person receiving the Heimlich Maneuver. As the emergency responders expertly flooded the gym, I felt a rush of protectiveness and nurturing rise up – how could I silently help my scared students?