Innovative High School Teaches Teenagers to Lead with Mindfulness
by Chrissy SinatraCan meditation positively affect teenagers’ lives? At Tinicum Art and Science (TAS), high school students are learning to calm their minds, stabilize their inner worlds and tap into their creativity before entering the classroom. Encouraging a teenager’s non-judgmental awareness of themselves and their surroundings takes a safe and nurturing community that models compassion and requires active participation. Becoming more mindful helps adolescents better regulate how life circumstances impact their well-being.
TAS began as a residential martial arts program in rural Bucks County and has evolved into a small, intensive high school with a classic liberal arts curriculum. TAS has been practicing meditation with adolescents in the Zen Buddhist tradition for over a decade. Founders Peter Ryan, principal, and Stephanie Kenney, assistant principal, are both black belts in Shim Gum Do. Disciplined training in this martial arts class, along with yoga, develop the intuitive practice of mindfulness while counting toward gym credits.
The whole foods movement is integral to Tinicum’s approach to health and education. The school mirrors the traditions of Zen Buddhism teaching by encouraging healthy food choices. Vegetarian lunches are made fresh daily with locally sourced produce.
The curriculum at TAS emphasizes academic vigor focusing on experience, inquiry and collaboration. Arts and academics are balanced to encourage new perspectives. Students are exposed to significant works of literature, philosophy, fine art and history and asked to examine why and how particular works interrelate and resonate.
Small class sizes create opportunities for students to engage in discussion and debate. TAS teachers are always available for conversation, inspiration and extra help. All students are supported to meet academic expectations, and gifted students are provided advanced learning opportunities. Teachers encourage cross-disciplinary projects, in which multiple courses merge.
Above all, community is valued. Students learn a great deal about how people work together, solve problems, set goals, change and grow. They also learn to accept themselves, while finding and following what inspires them.
Tinicum Art and Science is located at 85 Sherman Rd., in Ottsville. For more information, call 610-847-8213 or visit TinicumArtAndScience.org. May 2015.