IRP Transition Story
The mission of The Inner Resilience Program (IRP) is to cultivate the inner lives of students, teachers and schools by integrating Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) with contemplative practice.
After the events of the September 11th, 2001, a group of concerned educators and mental health practitioners, including Linda Lantieri, created The Inner Resilience Program to address the needs of eleven public schools located in the Ground Zero area of Manhattan. IRP’s initial goal was to equip the school staff and parents of these more than 5,000 students with the necessary skills to build back their inner strength and resilience. It soon became clear that the work being implemented in schools in lower Manhattan had broader implications to the field of education in general. Public school teachers all over the city and the country were overstressed and close to burnout. Many of them needed help managing the challenges facing them inside the classroom and out. Learning to balance work and life stressors was a pervasive issue that affected teachers throughout the New York City Department of Education and nationally. As a result of this ongoing need, the program continued to thrive, moving from a focus on trauma recovery into the broader category of teacher, parent, and student wellness, including a focus on nurturing the inner lives of educators and students.
Since the beginning, the implementation of IRP has included weekend residential retreats for school staff, professional development workshops, individual stress reduction sessions and parent workshops at school sites. The program also includes opportunities for teachers to nurture their inner lives through monthly sessions in which school staff are introduced to self-care strategies including a variety of contemplative practices.
Over time, IPR not only contributed to, but was also informed by the burgeoning worldwide interest in SEL and mindfulness within education. Though IRP maintained its original focus on promoting the inner resilience of school administrators and staff, Linda Lantieri’s 2008 book, Building Emotional Intelligence: Techniques to Cultivate Inner Strength in Children, and IRP’s K-8 curriculum, Building Resilience from the Inside-Out (2009), offer specific ways for teachers to help children respond to and rebound from any challenges they may face. The essential elements of IRP’s work include: the promotion of regular classroom instruction to develop students’ social, emotional and inner life skills; a mindful approach to behavior and classroom management; and a safe, caring and peaceful classroom environment.
IRP's Advisory Board met in November 2015, along with additional field supporters and IRP staff to strategize about next steps and how to best glean the learnings of these past 15 years to benefit additional educators, and to contribute to the field of contemplative education. The staff and team decided it would embark on a Transition Year,” beginning July 2016, to “honorably close” the organization by June, 2017. The process would include transitioning its work in a sustainable way to invest in the future of the field for broad impact beyond IRP. As mentioned this would free up Linda Lantieri, to play a more fluid role in the fields of SEL and Mindfulness in Education.
Some highlights of the work IRP and Linda Lantieri are embarking on during this final year of transition include:
- With a grant from the Greater Good Science Center, IRP recently finished writing Nurturing Gratitude from the Inside Out: 30 Activities for Grades K-8 a supplement to be used along with the Building Resilience from the Inside Out curriculum (can also be used independently) including specific rituals, routines and ongoing gratitude practices that can be used in the classroom and school-wide.
- Linda has been asked by Columbia University, Teachers College to help design a specialty for a new Master’s Degree Program in Psychology in Education for the Spirituality Mind-Body Institute. She is currently teaching a fall course Schools with Spirit: Cultivating the Social, Emotional and Inner Lives of Teachers and Students andwill teach a practicum in Contemplative Teaching and Learning in schools in New York City, integrating some of IRP’s work into both courses.
- IRP will be equipping staff developers in the various districts we are currently working in to carry on the work on their own through a mentoring and Training of Trainers process.
- Linda is actively assisting a group at Emory University, which is co-sponsored by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and is developing a curriculum framework on Compassion for All the World’s Children. Linda is one of three thought partners on this project and this curriculum will eventually be disseminated worldwide with pilot sites this year in several countries including the US.
- Linda has been appointed to the Council of Distinguished Educators of the National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Development