Wellness at Rutgers Prep
The Wellness Program at Rutgers Preparatory School strives to cultivate an environment that supports the wellbeing of our students, families, and faculty. We encourage self-care practices and positive change on the individual and community level through education of physical, emotional and mental wellness.
Through close relationships we work to empower individuals to reach their full potential by teaching positive health-promoting behaviors. Throughout the Pre-K–12th grade experience, there are a variety of opportunities for reflection, connection, and intervention across varying dimensions of wellbeing. Stress and anxiety are a part of our lives and can deeply affect the ways students and faculty collaborate, learn and grow. Learning how to navigate these challenges is a skill that is important throughout school and life. Therefore, the work we do in classrooms, on the stage, the fields and the courts help our students to develop their own individualized practice for managing their overall wellness.
What is "wellness" and why is it important?
Wellness is a lifelong process of looking at different ways to make healthy decisions to live a more "balanced" and meaningful life. At Rutgers Preparatory School, educating students, faculty, and parents about wellness is an important part of daily life.
Students spend a significant amount of time in school, making it the ideal place to learn–not only academics, but also life skills that will serve them well beyond their years at Rutgers Prep. Our wellness team works to help provide workshops and opportunities for students and faculty as they identify the areas of wellness they will use to help cope with challenges and reduce stress. There are always new strategies to try that can be added to a student's self care toolbox.
Where can you find wellness on campus?
Simply put–everywhere. Whether a student is participating in self care activities in our health classes, practicing a mindfulness breathing activity in Kindergarten or discussing ways to manage difficult emotions in the College Counseling Seminar Class the focus is always on building an understanding and a toolbox of practices to improve wellness. The Upper School has a dedicated space called the "Zen Den” where students can “re-set” - it is the only technology-free space on campus. Students can practice breathing exercises, relax with friends, color or even spend time with our therapy dog. The Happiness Club and The Mental Health Club are two clubs in the Upper School directly connected to wellness and self-care–both are student-led and help educate and discuss mental health, reduce stigma and support self-care practices.
Mindfulness at Rutgers Prep
Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally. Founder Jon Kabat-Zin developed Mindfulness-Stress Reduction in 1979 to initially support chronically ill patients not responding to treatment. The success of this program led to developing practices that can be used in daily life and through meditation practices.
Mindfulness doesn't mean we can't or won't experience negative emotions or failures, but it does mean we have the tools to manage these difficult situations in ways that help us learn and grow as individuals. As humans, we experience all types of emotions and make all types of mistakes, but we can be kind to ourselves and others, recognize how we can respond rather than react, and manage stress in a healthy way.
We are proud to have partnered with Mindful Schools to train faculty to teach mindfulness strategies and techniques in the classroom and throughout campus. Mindful School has been helping educators learn and teach mindfulness in order to help improve the ways in which our students learn and manage their mental and emotional health.
"Mindfulness is something we do in Kindergarten as a way to teach the kids how to focus their mind. Every day at morning meeting, we’ll ask kids to get into a calming position, to quiet their minds, and then we ask them to close their eyes and listen only to the sound of the singing bowl until they can’t hear it anymore. We practice that every day as a way to help them learn how to pay attention to something specific that we’re asking them to pay attention to."
– Wendy Jankowski
Lower School Teacher
“One of the mindfulness practices I use in Middle School Science is called “thinking about thinking” - when we finish a unit, or a quiz, I have my students write down how they think they did, how they prepared for it, and then we reflect on how we can improve.”
– Heather Vaccarino
Middle School Science Teacher
"In Health class in 9th and 11th grade we start every class with a mindfulness practice, and we often reflect on how these practices can be used in students’ daily lives - before a big test or athletic performance, before a difficult conversation with a friend or a teacher; even before moments of solitude."
– Jacquelyne Hern
Upper School Counselor and Health Teacher
The Social Institute (TSI) provides a social-emotional learning curriculum with the focus on using technology and social media in a positive, influential way. In the same way our faculty teach academic classes, our Upper and Middle School advisory program and counselors teach social-emotional skills through the #WinAtSocial curriculum. This gamified-technology based curriculum allows our students to identify ways to navigate technology while also learning about making connections with others.