Christopher Willard, PsyD

Psychologist, Speaker/Trainer, and Author

KEYNOTE #1 | Mindfulness is More Than Just Breathing

Mark Bertin, MD

Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician

KEYNOTE #2 | Mindfulness & ADHD Care

Gigi DiBello

Education Leader

KEYNOTE #3 | How Mindfulness Supports a Culturally Responsive Community

Keynote #1
Mindfulness is More Than Just Breathing

Keynote #2
Mindfulness & ADHD Care

Keynote #3
How Mindfulness Supports a Culturally Responsive Community


Pam Altman, LCSW, BSc

Director of Health and Well-Being, Brehm Preparatory School

Pam Altman started at Brehm in January of 2006 as an intern while completing her master’s in social work. In June of 2006, she began working as part of the residential team both scheduling recreation and supervising dorm parents. Pam received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Saskatchewan, Master of Social Work from the University of Missouri (Columbia), and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.

How to Make Mindfulness Fun and Accessible to Teens

Rachel Armentano

Art Teacher, Rocky Hill School

Rachel Armentano currently teaches art for grades 6-9 at Rocky Hill School. She was awarded 2015 Rhode Island Middle School Art Educator of the Year by Rhode Island Art Education Association. Additionally Rachel trains teachers and writes curriculum for Minni Space, a children’s design studio in Boston, and facilitates professional development sessions for art teachers in the Massachusetts juvenile justice system. She recently presented several sessions at the National Art Education Association Convention and Rhode Island Art Education Association Conference. At Rocky Hill School, Rachel focuses on building classroom culture and confidence in her art room, making interdisciplinary connections through art, as well as making service learning meaningful throughout the Middle School.

Mindfulness & Art: Circles, Shapes, Mandalas & Collaboration

Mark Bertin, MD

Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician

Dr. Mark Bertin, MD, a board certified developmental behavioral pediatrician in Pleasantville, NY, studied at the UCLA School of Medicine and completed training in general pediatrics at Oakland Children’s Hospital in California. After several years in general pediatrics he returned for fellowship training in neurodevelopmental behavioral pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Bertin is an assistant professor of pediatrics at New York College of Medicine and an instructor at the Windward Teacher Training Institute. He is a consultant for Reach Out and Read, a national organization that promotes child development and literacy, and on the editorial board of Common Sense Media. His books, The Family ADHD Solution and Mindful Parenting for ADHD, integrate mindfulness into evidence-based ADHD care.

Keynote #2
Mindfulness & ADHD Care

Bringing Mindfulness Home

Paige Bloom

Teacher, Moorestown Friends School

Paige Bloom has been in education for over a decade, with experiences from early childhood teaching and college coaching, to creating a yoga camp for middle school students. Her lifelong studies including her undergraduate degree from Colgate University, a master’s degree in education, and a 200-hour yoga teacher training have greatly impacted her role as a teacher at Moorestown Friends School. Paige’s pedagogical approach combines project based, student-centered learning with a strong social emotional focus based on her knowledge and training in mindfulness, yoga, and Ayurveda.

“Wait!” A Mindful Pace

Stephanie Cruff

Elementary Teacher, Rocky Hill School

Stephanie Cruff is the 2nd grade teacher at Rocky Hill School.  She received her master’s degree in education at the University of New Haven and has taught various early childhood and intermediate grade levels for the past nine years, including as a co-teacher in a multi-age K-2 classroom. Stephanie has practiced mindfulness throughout her life and was trained by Center for Resilience five years ago. Stephanie finds brain breaks, mindful coloring and journaling to be the most beneficial in her early childhood experience. In her personal time, she enjoys taking mindful walks and meditating. Stephanie also enjoys walks with her family, long runs to the beach, and cooking with her children.

Mindfulness in Elementary School (Grades K-2)

Amrit Daryanani

Director of Student Services, Wakefield School

Amrit is the Director of Student Services at Wakefield School in The Plains, Virginia. Raised in two faith traditions, she was initiated into formal meditation practice 37 years ago. She has brought meditation practice into both the counseling and classroom domains and has led parent meditation groups focusing on self-compassion and forgiveness. An avid animal lover, she volunteers at her local animal shelter and lives with a menagerie of rescues.

The Neuroscience of Mindfulness

From Turbulence to Grace: Utilizing Meditation and Breathwork to address Clinical Anxiety and Panic

Kerry Doyle, LICSW

Clinical Assistant Professor

Kerry Doyle is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Since 2015, Kerry has assisted with coordination of the National Center for School Crisis & Bereavement (NCSCB) Summer Training Program and assisted with development of the NCSCB Fellowship Program. A licensed independent clinical social worker, Kerry has experience in assessment, treatment and quality assurance monitoring in the mental health, judicial, and school settings. In 2019, Kerry, in collaboration with USC field colleagues, presented at the American Council for School Social Work (ACSSW) National Conference and the School Social Work Association of America (SSWAA) National Conference. Kerry received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brown University and a master’s degree in social work with a concentration in health and mental health from Columbia University. She is a 1991 alum of Rocky Hill School.

Trauma-Informed Mindfulness

Gigi DiBello

Education Leader

Gigi DiBello began working for the Providence Public School Department as the Supervisor for Personalized Learning in August 2018 after an eleven year tenure as the Head of School at Sophia Academy, a small independent middle school for girls from low income homes in Providence. While at Sophia, DiBello partnered with Center for Resilience to deepen existing social emotional practices, adding to a social justice framework designed to empower young people. DiBello is quickly adjusting to a bigger landscape where she finds herself reuniting with old friends, colleagues and community based partners in a new setting! The students continue to inspiration to her.

Keynote #3
How Mindfulness Supports a Culturally Responsive Community

Working with Resistence

Frankie Y. Engelking

Director of Student and Community Wellness, McLean School

Frankie Engleking has worked as Director of Student and Community Wellness at McLean School for the past six years. Prior to this position, Frankie worked in the field of health and wellness as an educator, curriculum developer, radio host, parent and teacher trainer, and mindfulness educator. The goal for her work has always been to empower individuals to believe in their own ability to impact their lives in positive and meaningful ways. Her own training and practice in mindfulness continues to inspire her to believe in the power of the individual and to breathe.

Sustaining A Mindfulness Culture in your School

Traci Fairchild, LCSW

Director of Counseling & Wellness, Rocky Hill School

Traci Fairchild is in her third year as Director of Counseling and Wellness at Rocky Hill Country Day School. She previously taught physical education and health for over a decade at RHCD and served as an adviser in Middle School. She found the need to pursue more coursework as a counselor, earning a master’s degree in social work at Rhode Island College. She trained in mindfulness through Center for Resilience in the first RHCD cohort of faculty over six years ago when their partnership began. Traci is thankful that she is able to work across the divisions with students, faculty, and parents to support them in being navigators of their own health in mind, body, and spirit.

Deborah Farmer Kris

Associate Director, LifeCompass Institute for Character & Leadership, Montrose School

Deborah Farmer Kris writes about education and parenting for NPR’s MindShift and for PBS Kids. She is the Associate Director for the LifeCompass Institute for Character and Leadership at Montrose School in Medfield, Massachusetts and a senior associate at Boston University’s Center for Character and Social Responsibility. She is married to a school principal and has two young children (with very different temperaments!)

Using Mindful Reflection to Build a Temperment-Inclusive Classroom

Peter Franklin

Chief Mindfulness Guy

Peter Franklin is a Certified Mindfulness Instructor (CMI) and the Chief Mindfulness Guy at Mindful Educator. Peter specializes in mindfulness training and program development for both public and independent K-12 schools. He is a much sought-after resource as well for faculty and staff professional development. As an educator for 20+ years, Peter understands the need and application for mindfulness in educational settings.

Finding Peace Within Ourselves, and Others

Amanda Hovey

Preschool Teachers, Rocky Hill School

Amanda Hovey, has completed training through Center for Resilience, practicing strategies learned through those sessions. She has been in an Early Childhood setting for the past 8 years. Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and french language. Amanda enjoys sharing her artistic talents during the mindfully-directed art experiences she creates for students.

Mindfulness in Preschool

Michael Jedrey

Head of Middle School, Rocky Hill School

Mike has been teaching at Rocky Hill School in the Middle School for 30 years. He has a science background, earning his bachelor’s degree in geology at Amherst College and his master’s degree in teaching from Tufts University. For the past 25 years, Mike has been the Division Head of the Middle School, leading the faculty and division through many strategic changes, including the mindfulness initiative. After being trained by Center for Resilience, Mike has sought ways for students to become practitioners and leaders of mindfulness, working with his faculty to incorporate mindfulness aspects and activities with intention into their classrooms.

Mindfulness in Middle School (Grades 6-8)

Joe Karr, MEd

Teacher, Rocky Hill School

Joe Karr, MEd has been combining science education with mindfulness for over ten years. He has worked with grades K-12 in formal and informal settings always bringing fun, patience, and passion. His integrated approach to teaching combines curriculum goals with a holistic understanding of, and connection to, all life. This is what cultural historian Thomas Berry calls the “Great Work”. He currently teaches science and physical education at Rocky Hill School.

Mindfulness & Science: Developing Ecological Consciousness

Ashley Lee

1st Grade Teacher, Rocky Hill School

Ashley is a first grade teacher at Rocky Hill School. She holds a BA from Texas Tech University. Ashley brings 22 years of elementary teaching experience in both private and public settings. She is currently receiving mindfulness training through the Center for Resilience and practicing strategies learned during those sessions. Ashley enjoys practicing mindful breathing, as well as mindful action-based learning activities with her students. When walking by her classroom, you will often see Ashley and her first grade students engaged in yoga poses or taking mindful brain breaks, including a morning exercise routine which offers everyone the opportunity to focus and be in the moment. These valued mindful practices, combined with Ashley’s naturally calm demeanor, creates a peaceful learning environment for her students.

Mindfulness in Elementary School (Grades K-2)

Caity MacDonald

Elementary Teacher, Rocky Hill School

Caity is currently a 5th grade teacher at Rocky Hill School. She earned her master’s degree in education from Boston University. She has been teaching for seven years, with experience in public and private school in the upper elementary grades. Caity has integrated mindfulness into her 5th grade classroom and in her own personal life for the last four years after being trained by Center for Resilience. Some of her favorite practices include journaling, mediation, mindful games, and mindful coloring. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her family at the beach, teaches cycling, and loves to cook.

Mindfulness in Elementary School (Grades 3-5)

Marie Mechtaly

Certified Professional Co-active Coach

Marie Mechtaly was born & raised in Denmark, but now resides in Newport, RI. She is a Certified Co-active Coach, trained and certified through world-renowned Coaching & Leadership School, The Coaches Training Institute. She is a passionate coach and facilitator, dedicated to her mission of helping to develop conscious leaders of all ages in schools and small organizations.

Becoming a Conscious Leader

Patty Mott

Preschool Teacher, Rocky Hill School

Patty Mott is Head Preschool Teacher at Rocky Hill School. She is currently training with Center for Resilience and has gained many practical strategies from these trainings. She has been involved in early childhood education for the past thirteen years, and received her certification in 2014. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in early childhood education. Patty’s prior education centered on music and theatre performance.  

Mindfulness in Preschool

Clare Mottola

Department Chair Theatre and Dance, Mindfulness Initiative Coordinator, Ethical Culture Fieldston School

Clare currently chairs the Department of Theatre and Dance at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx.  In addition to her role as a theatre educator and director, Clare co-founded and co-leads the Fieldston Mindfulness Initiative, now in its fifth year. Her work with the initiative includes leading workshops and practices, as well as co-teaching The Art and Science of Mindfulness. Clare is a certified yoga teacher and happily teaches yogis ages four and up. Clare trains teachers to teach Kids’ Yoga and Mindfulness, and is on the faculty of Yoga Haven’s 200-hour teacher training certification program.

Mindfulness & Theatre and Dance

Patty Pontarelli

Head of Lower School, Rocky Hill School

Patty Pontarelli, Head of Lower School at Rocky Hill Country Day School for the past seven years and previously first grade teacher at RHCD for twelve years, is committed to the authentic integration of mindfulness education within school communities and the value of routine self-care practices for children and adults. Patty begins each day turning on an essential oil diffuser and a favorite meditative Pandora radio station to establish a peaceful atmosphere for faculty, students, and families. She completed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), an eight-week evidence-based program offering intensive mindfulness training, as well as training through Center for Resilience, focusing on self-care and the application of strategies and mindfulness practices in the workplace.

Mindfulness Through an Administrator’s Lens

Lisa Reimer

Early Childhood Educator

Lisa Reimer is an Early Childhood educator with over 25 years of classroom experience. Lisa graduated from Roger Williams University with a degree in Theatre and a minor in Music. She earned her teaching certification at CCRI, completing the required course work with highest honors. Formerly a teacher at Rocky Hill School, Lisa was host to a Mindfulness pilot program in her classroom, the first of its kind at RHS. It is there that she met and studied with Vanessa Weiner and Shannon Smith from Center for Resilience. Passionate about the positive effects of mindfulness in the classroom, she is thrilled to share her experience in this upcoming conference. Lisa is now a teacher at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School in Phoenix Arizona, where she continues to share mindfulness strategies with her colleagues, students and parents.

Athletic Performance & Mindfulness

Diane Rich, MEd

Head of School, Rocky Hill School

Diane Rich is the first female Head of School at Rocky Hill School since the school was founded by Dorothy Marshall in 1934. She has an undergraduate degree from Boston College and received her MEd from Harvard University. Diane has thirty years experience in education, having served as founding Dean of Humanities at the award-winning Bedford High School in Bedford, NH. Diane completed mindfulness training through Center for Resilience and embraces the valuable role of mindfulness personally, through her attention to self-care, and professionally, by the application of mindfulness practices throughout her daily workplace routines. Diane is an advocate for the full integration of mindfulness education for the overall health and wellness of all members of the Rocky Hill School community and beyond.

Mindfulness Through an Administrator’s Lens

Sara Rizkalla-Tyson, MEd

Mindfulness and Health
Educator /Yoga Instructor

Sara has been an educator at New Hampton School for almost two decades teaching a variety of wellness courses and supporting non-traditional learners in the Academic Support Program. Sara’s passion for the inner life began in her early 20s with naming practice and blossomed into a desire to pursue training in the Relaxation Response, MBSR and Mindful Schools. She earned her MEd and CAGS degrees while becoming a certified yoga instructor. Sara’s personal practice includes her commitment to the Inayati Sufi Order and insight meditation. Sara lives in New Hampshire with her husband Adam and teenage son Gabriel.

Integrating Moments of Mindfulness into Your School Day

Lani Silversides

Instructor, Mathematics & Tang Institute Fellow in Sports Psychology & Mindfulness and Performance

Lani Silversides teaches and coaches at Phillips Academy Andover where she holds the Lumpkin Instructorship in the department of mathematics, statistics, and computer science and has been a varsity coach for fourteen years. Lani was a 2005 graduate and 4-year basketball player for the University of Vermont. In 2013, she was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. Lani has a Master of Science in Teaching from UNH and has taken graduate courses in sports and exercise psychology and mindfulness and performance at Boston University. She is a Certified Sport Psychology Coach and Certified Positive Educator.

Mindfulness & Performance

Shannon Smith

School Integration Specialist, Center for Resilience

Shannon is a native Nebraskan who grew up with a daily reminder to stop and notice the little things, and to treat others the way you want to be treated. When Shannon started her own yoga and mindfulness practice ten years ago, she quickly realized that they enhance and reinforce her personal beliefs about how we look at the world, how we treat others, and how we approach new situations. Passionate about teaching mindfulness, she is energized, motivated, and inspired by her students. Shannon has seventeen years of classroom teaching experience; a degree in early childhood and elementary education and a master’s in curriculum and instruction. As the School Integration Specialist, Shannon gets to work closely with Center for Resilience instructors, schools, and students. Shannon looks at life as a learning opportunity and is always eager to expand her knowledge and understanding. She has completed a variety of workshops and trainings on mindfulness and contemplative teaching and learning (Mindful Schools, Little Flower Yoga, Still Quiet Place, Creative Relaxation). Each of these opportunities has helped Shannon develop into the person she is today.

Integrating Mindfulness with Common Core & SEL Initiatives

Vanessa Weiner

Executive Director,
Center for Resilience

With a practice that started in adolescence, Vanessa Weiner is passionate about sharing mindfulness with people of all ages. She founded the organization in 2012 to serve our next generation. Now in its 8th year, she and her team have worked with over 7,000 students in a unique school-based social and emotional learning program, the first of its kind in Rhode Island. Evolving to best serve the needs of the community, Vanessa and her team expanded the mission of the organization in 2015 to bring these trainings and practice opportunities to an increasing number of adults in the workplace and community groups— facilitating classes so that people of all ages can become more empowered, resilient, and self-aware. Vanessa authored a chapter in the recently published book, Teaching Mindfulness Skills to Kids and Teens, and is a contributing author for Best Practices for Yoga in Schools. She has presented locally at the Rhode Island Business Group on Health Wellness Breakfast, Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance conference, Rhode Island Occupational Therapists Association conference, the Social Enterprise Ecosystem for Economic Development Summit, and is a regular guest lecturer at Brown and Rhode Island College. Nationally, she has spoken at the National Kids Yoga Conference and the Bridging the Hearts and Minds of Youth Conference. She can also be found creating in the kitchen or hanging out with her greatest teachers, her husband, and two children. Vanessa is grateful to be able to facilitate instruction through a wide variety of techniques with different groups of kids and adults every day, and continues to be amazed at just how transformational these practices can be.

Christopher Willard, PsyD

Psychologist, Speaker/Trainer, and Author

Dr. Christopher Willard, PsyD is a psychologist and educational consultant based in Boston, specializing in mindfulness. He has been practicing meditation for twenty years and has led hundreds of workshops around the world, with invitations to more than two dozen countries. He currently serves on the board of directors at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy, and is the president of the Mindfulness in Education Network. He has presented at TEDx conferences and he has contributed to the New York Times, the Washington Post,, and elsewhere. He is the author of Child’s Mind (2010), Growing Up Mindful (2016), Raising Resilience (2017), and eight other books for parents, professionals and children, along with six sets of cards and therapeutic games, available in more than ten languages. He teaches at Harvard Medical School.

Keynote #1
Mindfulness is More Than Just Breathing

Working with Learning Differences

Doug Worthen

Director of Mindfulness Programs, Middlesex School

Doug has developed a passion for mindfulness and meditation and is currently very active in the burgeoning movement to bring these practices into the American school system. To this end, Doug joined the Middlesex faculty in 2011 to lead sessions in meditation and teach courses on mindfulness.

Mindfulness Director Initiative