Listening to NPR, today, we heard teachers discuss the worsening state of students’ academic performance and behavior problems due to the pandemic. One teacher in Maine spoke of her four-year-old preschoolers who are not only oppositional, but they “curse like sailors and pirates, too.”

This is a crisis and we plan to do what we can to help. Our expertise in combining the Arts with social-emotional learning (SEL), mindfulness instruction and kindness instruction for teachers, parents, and students make us well-poised to offer programs to schools.

To that end, we are planning on writing a book that will be a guide for teachers and parents. We had a meeting today with a noted curriculum writer and together we will be creating materials over the course of the coming year.

It remains to be seen how and if schools, state or federal government dollars will fund these types of softer programs, but if it’s appearing on NPR and being written about in the New York Times, that’s a good indication that this crisis is well beyond a fringe issue. Time will tell, but we’ll move “as if” and keep our fingers crossed that the work we’ll be doing will be met with opportunities to present it in the schools. I’m optimistic.

Beth’s dream has always been for us to embed ourselves in a school (or other organization) for one month. We’d train teachers, offer tips for parents, and use our different skill sets in the classroom to give all of these stakeholders positive experiences that will change their lives almost immediately. As importantly, we believe that the book can be a guide that allows adults to keep using these beneficial techniques for themselves and their children.

Speaking of children, we just got word that our daughter, Steph Bierko, is crossing the country to spend some time with us in Sullivan County!

I’m thrilled. In addition to hanging out and enjoying her company, I think Steph might see some positive opportunities with regard to two of her passions – farming and food insecurity – here in Sullivan. This county is full of farms, inexpensive land, and very much in need of people who can help improve the nutritional needs of poor families.

Coincidentally, we have a meeting tomorrow with Gary and Judy S. and a non-profit with a solid track record of providing food to these families. Like the work we’re doing to help schools with their academic and SEL issues, we hope to lend our talents to helping this organization with its nutritional goals, too.

God’s plan for us is becoming a bit clearer. Working through personal challenges, moving around the country, writing, nurturing family and friend connections, developing our self-care through yoga and meditation – it’s all starting to look like we are growing in order to expand our heart-centered mission. In 2023 and beyond, I see us using our talents in collaboration with others to meet the real and deep needs of our community.

It’s exciting and it’s an Adventure I wouldn’t want to miss!

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