Workshop to reduce student stress scheduled at Pine-Richland High School
Friday, January 3, 2020 | 12:01 AM
Managing stress can be a difficult task for many adults, let alone students, and a new workshop at Pine-Richland High School aims to assist parents in helping their children navigate challenges.
Joni Sturgill has been teaching mindfulness for close to 15 years in a variety of settings, and she’ll be leading a parent workshop on stress and anxiety beginning at 6 p.m. Jan. 14.
“I’ll talk about the impact of stress on students and when I work with school districts I also talk about the impact of stress on faculty and teachers as well because it all impacts the students,” she said. “Emotional energy really trickles down from the top, so it’s important for everyone to understand the impacts of stress and have resiliency practices because we’re never going to eliminate stress. It’s just a matter of finding healthy coping practices.”
Sturgill works with everyone from individuals to corporations through her company Healthy Body Peaceful Soul but first implemented her Plugged Into Mindfulness program for use in educational settings in the North Allegheny School District in 2017-18. That program entails training teachers and administrators about stress and simple mindfulness and deep breathing practices that are evidence-based and help people to cope with change, challenges and stress.
Having a mindfulness practice, she said, helps with focus and attention, which is more needed than ever in the digital age, and research has also shown it improves emotional intelligence, resiliency and regulation.
“It also helps overall resilience to stress, meaning that when a stressful event happens we’re all going to be impacted,” she said. “It’s about how quickly you can recover from the event, and if you’re resilient you can recover more quickly and not be as impacted when a stressful event happens.”
In high-performing school districts, Sturgill said, stressors can be abundant as not only students but also teachers and faculty members feel pressure to be perfect. For students, there’s the compulsion not only to get good grades but also to be involved in multiple activities and extracurriculars because that’s what colleges are looking for in applicants.
“If it’s intense enough and the climate is high-pressure enough, kids can lose their ability to just be kids,” she said. “It’s important for them to have that time because as we all know, once you’re an adult it never slows down or stops. Kids need that time and space to process their childhood as they grow up but in our fast-paced, competitive culture that isn’t really afforded them.”
The session is aimed at parents with students in kindergarten through high school. Parents will walk away with some simple practices and coping skills and techniques they can bring home to their families, and there will be time for questions. The session will last from 6 to 8 p.m. on Jan. 14 at the high school’s STEAM LGI at 700 Warrendale Road. Find more information and a questionnaire to complete in order to RSVP at pinerichland.org.