Skip Sub-navigation

Yoga in the Schools Symposium


Tracy AffonsoTracy Affonso is a 200-hour certified yoga teacher who completed the Yoga 4 Classrooms Teacher Intensive in 2013. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Boston University and a master’s in education degree in Integrated Teaching through the Arts from Lesley University. Tracy is a fourth-grade teacher in the Newton (Massachusetts) Public School system and is committed to planting the seeds of mindfulness in her students. She also teaches mindful yoga classes at studios in the Boston area.

Timothy B. BairdTimothy B. Baird, EdD, MA, has served as superintendent of the Encinitas Union School District (EUSD) since 2009, and has 32 years of experience working in California public schools. He has also served as an elementary school teacher, elementary school principal, high school principal, and assistant superintendent for curriculum. During his tenure with EUSD, the district has received national attention for its initiatives, including its 1-1 iPad program, health and wellness programs, and green schools initiative. Integrating yoga, school gardens and farms, daily organic salad bars, and active student participation, the EUSD health and wellness curriculum is being replicated in schools and districts ranging from Houston to New York City.

View Timothy B. Baird’s presentation.

Anne Buckley-ReenAnne Buckley-Reen is an occupational therapist, yoga therapist, researcher, and presenter who is known for her innovative therapeutic yoga programs. As a consultant to New York City schools for more than 20 years, Anne drew on her background in developmental pediatrics, education, and yoga to create the “Get Ready To Learn” Yoga Therapy in the Classroom curriculum. She provides program implementation, training, and support for participating New York City schools, and oversees an online data-collection system to measure changes in student performance following yoga. Anne also teaches workshops throughout the United States and Europe on yoga therapy for children with developmental challenges.

View Anne Buckley-Reen’s presentation.

Catherine Cook-CottoneCatherine Cook-Cottone, PhD, is a researcher specializing in embodied self-regulation (encompassing yoga, mindfulness, and self-care) and psychosocial disorders, such as eating disorders and trauma. A licensed psychologist, yoga teacher, and associate professor at SUNY Buffalo, she is director of the school psychology program and has studied school interventions for 15 years. Catherine has written two books and more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Presenting nationally and internationally, Catherine uses her model of embodied self-regulation to structure discussions on empirical work and practical applications. She teaches classes on mindful therapy, yoga for health and healing, history of psychology, and counseling for children and adolescents. She also has a private practice specializing in the assessment and treatment of anxiety-based disorders, eating disorders, and the development of emotion-regulation skills.

View Catherine Cook-Cottone’s presentation.

Janna DelgadoJanna Delgado, BFA, E-RYT 500, is Program Leader for Kripalu Yoga in the Schools. Janna combines her training as a Kripalu Yoga teacher, Integrative Yoga Therapist, Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultant, and AFAA-certified fitness instructor with her background in acting to create playful, collective yoga experiences. She uses the insight gained through her 15 years as a yoga teacher and her experience leading outdoor education programs for adolescents to make yoga accessible and meaningful to teenagers. Read more about Kripalu Yoga in the Schools.

David GermanoDavid Germano, PhD, teaches and researches Tibetan and Buddhist Studies at the University of Virginia (UVA). He is the director of UVA’s Contemplative Sciences Center and also directs the Tibet Center and SHANTI (Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts Network of Technological Initiatives). His personal research focuses on the history of Tibetan Buddhism, with a special focus on tantra and contemplative traditions. David has lived for many years in Tibetan communities in Asia, working extensively on programs of scholarly engagement, community service, and participatory knowledge initiatives. He also has extensive experience in the development of digital technology for use in the humanities and education. He is currently focused on the exploration of contemplative ideas, values, and practices involving scientific methodologies and new applications in diverse fields.,,

Mark GreenbergMark Greenberg, PhD, holds the Bennett Endowed Chair in Prevention Research in Penn State University’s College of Health and Human Development. He is one of the developers of the Providing Alternative Thinking Strategies® (PATHS) curriculum, a program for educators and counselors designed to facilitate the development of self-control, emotional awareness, and interpersonal problem-solving skills. For the past 30 years, Mark has studied the impact of social and emotional learning programs on students, teachers, and families. Mark is a board member of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). Read more about the Prevention Research Center.

Scott HimelsteinScott Himelstein is the former deputy secretary of education and acting secretary of education for the state of California. In that capacity, he served as chief policy advisor to Governor Schwarzenegger on K-12 and higher education. In 2008, he was appointed by the governor to the California Community College Board of Governors, and served as its president from 2011 to 2013. Scott previously served as chairman and CEO of the National Even Start Association, president of the William D. Lynch Foundation for Children, and chairman and CEO of San Diego Reads. He is now the director of the University of San Diego (USD)’s Center for Education Policy and Law and Mobile Technology Learning Center, and an instructor of law and politics of education policy development in the USD School of Leadership and Education Sciences. Scott currently serves on the Union Tribune education panel. His expertise encompasses the financial, political, and workforce dimensions of educational policy development

Deborah HoffmanDeborah Hoffman is the principal of Lincoln Elementary School in the Madison (Wisconsin) Metropolitan School District. Also a former principal at Franklin Elementary School in Madison, Deborah spent four years as a classroom teacher and learning coordinator at Hopkins Street School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She holds a PhD in educational leadership and policy analysis and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin (UW) at Madison, and earned her bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. The focus of her research and practice is social justice leadership within public education. Deborah has participated in the UW Health Integrative Medicine’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course and has practiced yoga for 10 years. Her school’s partnership with the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at UW has resulted in more than two-thirds of the instructional staff attending the MBSR course.

Andrea HydeAndrea Hyde, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational and Interdisciplinary Studies at Western Illinois University, where she teaches courses in the social foundations of education, education policy, and qualitative research. She studies school-based yoga curriculum and teacher training programs, and relates this work to critical pedagogy and social justice education. Andrea has developed a mindfulness pedagogy for post-secondary education, with connections to philosophy of education and critical social theories. As a consultant and program evaluator for the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organization Yoga in Schools, Andrea is part of a team that designs and delivers a grant-supported, standard-aligned, professional development program for teachers in the use of yoga techniques as part of their physical education and health classes. Read more about Andrea.

View Andrea Hyde’s presentation.

Patricia JenningsPatricia (Tish) Jennings, MEd, PhD, is an Associate Professor in Education at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. She is an internationally recognized leader in the field of social and emotional learning, with an emphasis on teacher stress and how it impacts the classroom and student learning. Tish received her doctorate in human development from the University of California, Davis. As senior director of the Initiative on Contemplative Teaching and Learning at the Garrison Institute, she led the faculty team that developed Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE for Teachers), a mindfulness-based program for teachers. As research assistant professor at the Prevention Research Center at Penn State University, Tish conducted a federally funded study demonstrating that CARE improves teachers’ well-being, health, emotion regulation, efficacy, and mindfulness. She has more than 22 years of classroom teaching experience. Read more about Tish.

Alan N. Johnson Alan N. Johnson is superintendent of the Woodland Hills School District in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, which participates in an active yoga-in-the-schools program. The Woodland Hills Promise Program incorporates yoga into a successful educational-alternatives program for at-risk students, and Alan credits yoga with a significant reduction in the incidence of classroom disturbances and physical confrontations in the program. A former principal of Greater Johnstown High School in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and former principal and school reform director for the Academy Park High School in Sharon Hills, Pennsylvania, Alan was a classroom teacher for five years, teaching chemistry and computer science. He holds a master’s degree from Gannon University, and is enrolled in a doctoral studies program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Leah KalishLeah Kalish, MA, is a founder and recognized expert in the yoga education movement. From 2000 to 2009, Leah was program director of Yoga Ed., where she developed and co-authored pre-kindergarten to high school yoga curriculum and trainings for yoga teachers and classroom teachers. She has created many successful products and curricula for Gaiam, School Specialty, Imaginazium, and Barefoot Books. Through Move with Me Action Adventures, Leah delivers resources and training for early childhood educators that integrate stories, yoga and creative movement, and self-regulation tools. A yoga teacher and certified Family Constellation facilitator, Leah holds a bachelor’s degree in dance education and a master’s degree in developmental education. She completed the Landmark Forum Curriculum for Living in 2003.

View Leah Kalish’s presentation.

Debby KaminskyDebby Kaminsky is the founder of Newark Yoga Movement, a nonprofit that has shared yoga with more than 14,000 students, 1,400-plus educators, and the community of Newark, New Jersey, including nearly 600 firefighters. A former advertising executive, Debby became a yoga teacher in 2004 and has taught yoga in Kenya and Tanzania, and for the military in Israel. She has served as a Peace Ambassador for Global Mala NJ, an annual event uniting the global yoga community, and organized yoga events when the Dalai Lama visited Newark for the 2011 Peace Summit. In November 2013, Newark Yoga Movement began a strategic partnership with the newly formed Atlanta Yoga Movement.

View Debby Kaminsky’s presentation.

Sat Bir S. KhalsaSat Bir S. Khalsa, PhD, is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in the department of medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He also directs research for Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living. His projects have focused on the therapeutic applications of yoga in a number of settings, including public schools, and for several conditions, including insomnia, performance anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. He is one of the most active and experienced researchers in the yoga world today. Read more about Sat Bir.

Sat Kristie Patten KoenigKristie Patten Koenig, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is an associate professor in New York University’s Department of Occupational Therapy. An occupational therapist with a PhD in educational psychology, she examines the efficacy of interventions used in public schools for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her research focuses on utilizing a relationship-based paradigm and accessing the perspective of the individual with ASD to understand the impact of these issues on quality of life and adaptive behavior. Kristie is the principal investigator of the ASD Nest Program, an inclusive program for children and adolescents with autism in the New York City Department of Education. She is also principal investigator for the GIFTED project, a three-year grant project aimed at developing women leaders in public schools in Ghana. She teaches professional and post-professional courses in pediatric intervention, school-based practice, and sensory processing and regulation. Read more about Kristie.

Tamar MendelsonTamar Mendelson, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Mental Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, working with the Center for Adolescent Health and the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence. Her research interests include the development of prevention and intervention strategies, with a focus on underserved urban populations. Tamar is currently evaluating the use of mindfulness and yoga to improve emotional and behavioral outcomes among elementary and middle school students. She is also investigating the use of cognitive behavioral strategies for prevention of depression in urban youth and adolescents. Read more about Tamar.

View Tamar Mendelson’s presentation.

Shari MillerShari Miller, PhD, is a research psychologist at RTI International. She has worked in schools for more than two decades, and recently completed a school-based pilot study to test a mindful yoga curriculum with high-risk adolescents. Shari is also a registered yoga instructor, and is enrolled in a yoga therapy training program. She is a clinical psychologist who has worked in inpatient and outpatient mental-health and pediatric settings.

Edi PasalisEdi Pasalis, MBA, MTS, Director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living, champions the use of yoga throughout society, particularly in the education and health-care sectors. She brings more than two decades of corporate and entrepreneurial experience and a deep study of yoga to this work. Edi’s academic background includes an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School, where she explored the impact of yoga on spiritual life. Edi is also a 500-Hour certified Kripalu Yoga teacher.

Ali SmithAli Smith cofounded the Holistic Life Foundation in 2001 with his brother, Atman Smith, and Andres Gonzalez, and serves as its executive director. Through the foundation, he has helped develop and pilot yoga and mindfulness programs for at-risk youth at drug treatment centers, juvenile detention centers, alternative high schools, and mental-health crisis facilities, and in many underserved communities. Ali has developed a yoga teacher training program, and partnered with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health and Penn State University's Prevention Research Center to study the impact of yoga and mindfulness on urban youth in Baltimore public schools. His work with the foundation has been featured on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, on PBS, and in Mindful magazine, Yoga Journal, and the book A Mindful Nation by Congressman Tim Ryan.

Iona M. SmithIona M. Smith, MEd, CYT 500, is Program Leader for Kripalu Yoga in the Schools. She cocreated the KYIS curriculum, co-facilitates the KYIS Teacher Training, and serves as a Yoga Educator for KYIS research studies. Iona holds a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and a 500-hour yoga teacher certification from the Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica. Read more about Kripalu Yoga in the Schools.

Joanne SpenceJoanne Spence is the director of Yoga on the Square, an all-inclusive, eco-friendly yoga studio in Pittsburgh’s East End, and the founder and executive director of Yoga in Schools, whose mission is to empower students and teachers with yoga-inspired exercises to promote lifetime wellness. Since 2005, Yoga in Schools has exposed approximately 18,000 K–12 students to yoga programs, and 1,000 teachers to Tools for Teachers trainings and Yoga Ed curriculum. Joanne has 20 years of social work experience, and is also a yoga therapist and staff developer for the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh.

View Joanne Spence’s presentation.

Carla TantilloCarla Tantillo is the founder of Mindful Practices, offering yoga and wellness programs for school districts. A certified yoga teacher with a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction, Carla was a founding teacher and curriculum director of a high-poverty school in Chicago, and has taught at both the secondary and elementary levels. She is the cocreator of Hip-HopYoga™ and provides professional development to schools across the country. An international presenter, consultant, and author, Carla is dedicated to putting yoga and wellness strategies into the hands of students and teachers everywhere.

View Carla Tantillo’s presentation.

Patrick TolanPatrick Tolan, PhD, is director of the Youth-Nex Center: University of Virginia (UVA)’s Center to Promote Effective Youth Development, and a professor for UVA’s Curry School of Education and Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences. He is an internationally recognized authority on intervention evaluation, prevention from a developmental perspective, and ecological effects on children and families. Patrick has conducted four major randomized trials and written extensively about theory, methods, empirical results, and policy implications for evidence-based practices to promote youth development. His current focus is on how youth succeed, and the best methods to prepare them for the coming world. Patrick is also emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois. Read more about Youth-Nex.

View Patrick Tolan’s presentation.