Anne Arundel Instructor of the 12 months embraces wellness by incorporating yoga at Annapolis Excessive College

Mary Kay Connerton, wellness coordinator at Annapolis High, guides students through stress breathing exercises before their class in a freshman science class Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

Not too long ago, Annapolis Excessive College bodily training trainer Mary Kay Connerton led a freshman science class by way of a 10-minute yoga break to study a modified solar salutation.

With the lights out, the scholars started by taking just a few deep breaths every time Connerton rang his miniature singing bowl. College students then stretched upward, inhaling as they introduced their arms as much as their foreheads and exhaling out and down as they reached to the touch their ft.

College students then returned to their seats to inhale, maintain, tuck their chins, and exhale. This relaxed breath, Connerton says, helps have interaction the thoughts and focus by regulating the pituitary gland, which releases the hormone cortisol, which may cut back anxiousness.

After repeating it just a few instances, he referred to as on a scholar to steer the train.

If you happen to can educate others, then you recognize the content material, he stated.

He ends the session with a proper Namaste and bow earlier than leaving the room.

Connerton, 37, teaches youngsters in regards to the significance of being lively and wholesome in her function as a wellness coordinator. Nonetheless, she reworked her impression on college students with these 10-minute yoga workout routines, totaling about 30 per week.

That revolutionary spirit and dedication led to her being named District Instructor of the 12 months on the 2023 Excellence in Schooling Awards ceremony at Maryland Dwell. On line casino on April 20.

To inform the reality, I didn’t count on to win. I used to be simply in awe, he stated. This course of was only a stunning journey. It taught me a lot about myself professionally and personally, and I simply felt extremely honored to be standing subsequent to such gifted lecturers.

However for colleagues like Annapolis Excessive Principal Patrick Gelinas, he was the right candidate.

Connerton is an educator whose every day vitality, imaginative and prescient and innovation assist rework the college and the college district, Gelinas wrote in her advice letter.

He at all times interacts with the scholars. When she walks into our classroom, each scholar connects, and many actually have interaction with what she’s educating, stated Annapolis science trainer Geeta Lala. They’re hesitant to start out, however then everybody loves it when he enters. College students have smiles on their faces and are able to go.

Mary Kay Conterton learns she is the 2023 Teacher of the Year at Maryland Live.  Casino Thursday, April 20.

An lively athlete in her youth, Connerton took up yoga as a approach to recuperate from an damage she sustained whereas working on the monitor workforce. When she moved to varsity, she stated she simply fell into yoga as a every day follow.

Actually, it helped me rather a lot with my psychological well being, she stated. I saved pondering how great it will have been to have been given this chance to study yoga after I was youthful.

She acquired her first certification as a yoga trainer in 2009 from Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashrams & Facilities in New York.

After graduating from the State College of New York at Cortland in 2010, Connerton started her educating profession in her residence state of New York as a long-term substitute elementary trainer within the Homer Central College District. She was there for about six months when she determined to maneuver to Maryland to work as a particular educator at Crofton Center College. In 2012, he transferred to Bates Excessive College to do the identical factor.

Integrating yoga/mindfulness/wellness methods into her educating led to Crofton Center College’s grade level averages transferring from 24% of the first-quarter benchmark to 85% of the third-quarter benchmark within the first 12 months of implementation, she stated.

In 2015, she determined to pursue her grasp’s diploma in instructional management and accepted her present place because the Wellness Coordinator for Annapolis Excessive Faculties.

That very same 12 months, she began the Stretch Your Wellness course, which serves as an introduction to yoga and mindfulness.

Mary Kay Connerton, Annapolis High's wellness coordinator, talks to students about stress reduction and wellness before their class in freshman science class on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

The course offers a quick historical past of yoga, the anatomical advantages, and the bodily follow of yoga because it pertains to rest strategies, respiratory workout routines, particular postures, a nutritious diet, and constructive pondering. By exploring the 4 elements of mindfulness, college students study wholesome methods to alleviate stress and promote lifelong well being, in response to an outline of it on the college methods web site.

Every little one has surveys in the beginning and finish of the semester to trace their stress ranges, confidence and teachers to gauge the impression the course has had on them, Connerton stated.

Connerton noticed firsthand how these practices have been transferred to Annapolis AP Physics college students who participated in her yoga/mindfulness methods and took the Superior Placement check through the 2019-2020 faculty 12 months. Check scores for these college students that 12 months have been 10% above the worldwide common, Connerton stated.

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That is wonderful. I’ve at all times been all for how these methods have an effect on college students’ tutorial efficiency, she stated.

Through the pandemic, Connerton wrote a curriculum with Ryan Voigtlin, the college methods director of scholar providers, referred to as the Wellness Block to assist assist focus away from the classroom. In collaboration with a number of researchers at Johns Hopkins College, they’ve put collectively classes on subjects like wholesome relationships, find out how to be an advocate for your self and your training, and find out how to develop a wholesome self-care routine.

Johns Hopkins will publish a analysis paper on the brand new curriculum, citing Connerton as a co-author.

Connertons’ motto is Success Begins with a Wholesome Physique and Thoughts, and he stated he has extra concepts on how he can additional promote that motto. For now, she hopes she will be able to encourage the Anne Arundel County Public College System to rent extra coordinators like her to achieve extra faculties.

Mary Kay Connerton, Annapolis High's wellness coordinator, is looking for a student volunteer as she leads students through a stress breathing exercise before their class in a freshman science class on Wednesday, April 26, 2023.

Connerton has two youngsters who attend the college and has labored alongside her husband, Rob, who additionally teaches at Annapolis Excessive, since 2012, once they have been each employed at Bates Center College.

Initially, she and her husband deliberate to show in Maryland for just a few years after which transfer to New York. They’ve lived in Arnold for 13 years.

The fact is that we do not management a lot on this lifetime, however what we will management is ourselves, so we would as properly do our greatest to maintain ourselves wholesome and deal with what comes our manner as finest we will. manner, he stated. Every part is transferring so quick, it is like we’ve to reteach ourselves find out how to loosen up.

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