The following post was originally posted on MyMindfulMat.com – We’re really grateful for the teachers and leaders (who feel like family) who have influenced where we are today.
A caring fourth grade teacher and weekly saunter field trips changed at least one girl’s life in the face of a chaotic world.
There is one teacher who will always be the person that I consider to be the most life-changing and memorable. Her name is Mrs. Schofield. She was my 4th grade teacher.
It would take a tremendous amount of time to reflect – let alone write about – all that Mrs. Schofield taught me. She taught me to write, to be creative, to imagine, to appreciate the world and especially to benefit from nature. I remember in class we put on a huge play that she helped write called “Hubbub on the bookshelf”. It is because of her that I still remember lines from Shakespeare, historical events, and the symbolic significance of many stories.
The most meaningful lesson she taught me, however, was about mindfulness.
Mrs. Schofield took us on Thursday “Saunter” journeys. Our school had a small forest behind it and was close to several other nature-furnished groves. With permission, we would take time every Thursday to walk, as a class, back into the forests or fields. With our little modge-podged journals, we were instructed to find our own personal spot and do the assignment of the day (write a poem about what you see, write down all of the different plants you can find, make observations about how nature works…). When we were finished, we sat and thought and appreciated the world.
By going out in nature we really learned much more then we could sitting in a class. At least, I learned much more than I ever thought I would. Looking back on that journal (yes, I still have my “saunter journal”), I notice more and more how those saunters down dirt and overgrown paths lead me down the paths in my life. They were ultimately a step onto my own personal life-long saunter.
By appreciating nature, we learned to appreciate the world. By appreciating the world, we learned to appreciate ourselves and our place in this world.
Mrs. Schofield’s class motto was this:
Go Forth and Conquer Thyself
Looking back to more than a decade ago, on September 11 in 2001, I now realize that those saunters helped our class more fully understand and overcome the tragedies of that day. I remember walking into my 4th grade classroom where Mrs. Schofield had the radio on. Through the static of the radio, I learned of the devastation happening on the other side of the nation. All that I learned in that year – through saunters, creative writing and my teacher’s example – allowed me to be mindful in a very critical time for the world. We had been equipped to know how to be still, to breathe, to ponder and to experience. Those simple experiences in my fourth grade classroom have shaped my future and abilities in profound ways. (And, without those experiences, there is a good chance My Mindful Matwould not exist).
I am so incredibly thankful for all that Mrs. Schofield taught me, not just academically, but all of the wonderful life lessons I learned along those freshly sauntered paths. Little did she know that she was teaching me, unbeknownst to myself, what it means to be present, mindful, and intentional. Thank you Mrs. Schofield!
If you are a teacher, a leader, and especially if you are a parent – I highly recommend using your influence in anyway possible to follow the example of Mrs. Schofield. The world needs mindful saunterers more than ever.
COO Coriaria, LLC