Faculty, Staff Focus on Happiness


Jasmin Gonzalez, Sports Co-Editor

Last year a number of Leyden teachers and staff tried to learn one thing: how to be happy. Now their goal is to make feeling good a focus at Leyden.

According to Assistant Principal for Teaching and Learning Ms. Karen Ritter, those who took an online course that focused on positive psychology and happiness are feeling its impact. “It was a mooc, a free online course, that came to my attention over the summer. I knew some counselors were interested in this positive psychology, so I forwarded it to them so they could sign up. Then I decided to spread the word for anyone that would be interested in taking the course, because last year we did a couple of ‘lunch-n-learns’ based on mindfulness,” she said.

“We had about 8 people that regularly attended this course, Wednesday after school for 10 weeks, so it was like a real college course. And it was a mixture of teachers and support staff that took the course, and there were final exams, midterms, and all like a real college course.” In addition to the schoolwork, attendees like Peggy Kasallis, Michele Curley, Alicia Funes, Patti Muldoon, and Emily Wine also had to explore ways to produce happiness.

“We learned new research every week,” Ritter explained, “and we were given a happiness activity or projects we had to practice every week. For example one of them was we had to write three good things down everyday. When [you] focus on what happens positively in your life, you start to notice more positive things overall.” Ritter concluded, “The point of happiness is to not just be happy yourself, but it is also to spread it so others around you are happy and we have a better school environment and better culture. So each of [the class members] chose a project.”

The Mindfulness Club that Ms. Michele Curley and Ms. Alicia Funes run is a product from this class. “I’ve been a believer in meditation for a long time,” Curley said.

“When Ms. Ritter started a morning meditation for staff last spring, I eagerly joined in. This year her schedule did not permit her to lead the group, so I decided to do it. Several staff members sit and meditate every Tuesday morning from 6:45-7:15 AM. I lead a Lunch and Learn for staff entitled ‘Meditation 101.’ And I also wanted to provide a space for meditation and mindfulness for students. So Ms. Funes and I started the Mindfulness Club for both students and staff. We meet every Wednesday from 3:00-3:25 PM in Library Classroom C. All are welcomed.”