Above and Beyond: Art Teacher Introduces Mindfulness to Young People

Recent Telstar graduates worked with Tera at Mahoosuc Kids last summer. From left to right: Rachael Miller, Kaitlyn Buck, Tera Ingraham, Brooklyn Kimball and Shelby Thorman Submitted

BETHEL – When Tera Ingraham’s visual arts class was hit by the pandemic in 2020, she decided to take art to another level to help Telstar students. As she saw her students filled with more worry and anxiety after 2020, she asked Principle Brand Kenney if it would be okay to stick with an art and mindfulness class as an option.

And that’s how it started. The goal was to teach students how to stay in the moment and use art to do so. By remaining present, the worry decreases.

“We created this class as a way for them to have an hour of their day where they have nothing to worry about and where they learn to train not to worry,” says Ingraham. “So we’ll come to class, they’ll take out their journals.” I’m sharing a quote, kind of a positive affirmation, and we’ve learned to take a negative thought and turn it into neutral or positive thoughts.

Sometimes they meditate. Sometimes they research and learn why people are worried. Sometimes they practice mindfulness, looking and seeing what is around them. Then the students are free to draw, color or paint, with Ingraham showing them techniques.

“This course is non-judgmental,” says Ingraham. “They are there just to express themselves. Some of them write like a long journal entry, others write only their sentiment for the day. And then they create and I have never seen so many children completely immersed in their work. These kids, they’re just totally engaged. They are relaxed. They leave here saying “okay, I could, I can, handle almost anything today.” So it’s something I’m very proud of this year that the pandemic has in a way brought to my program. “

In the midst of the pandemic, Ingraham had to be especially creative when teaching as she couldn’t share art material and students worked remotely.

“When we were all remote and we were all working from home, I had to be very creative because they had nothing [materials], explains Ingraham. “As if we hadn’t planned this. So I suggested things like making a portrait with food. Take a picture of it. I had them use found objects and then create a design around the found objects. So like, turn a paperclip into something else, you know, with the drawing.

Since they couldn’t share art material, Ingraham made a wishlist on Amazon with things she knew her students would need. However, he went over budget. She posted her wishlist on Facebook and asked her friends to donate. Within a day and a half, all of the items had been purchased and donated to the art room. So now all of his students had a bag to hold their own materials, things like watercolors, Sharpie markers, a pair of scissors, a ruler, an eraser, all the essentials.

Back to the present day. Healing from 2020.

“I also think that mental health is becoming something more accepted by our society,” says Ingraham. of them for that.

“And I think that’s another reason I’ve worked so hard to connect with my kids, it’s like I want them to know that they have a person here to talk to who’s wrong. not judge them who is there for you know, support them with however they need it.

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