Empowering At-Risk Students at New Horizons High
Failing grades, truancy, and a high rate of adjudication have made up the experience of a majority of students at New Horizons High School in New Haven, CT — at least that was the situation in the past.
In the Fall of 2013, New Horizons partnered with the David Lynch Foundation to implement the Quiet Time Program, an evidence-based approach to lowering stress and improving learning readiness which includes twice-daily meditation sessions. Over the past year, the Foundation has organized training in the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique, a simple, easy-to-learn, and non-religious practice that forms the core of Quiet Time, for over 70 of the school’s 100 students and staff – with the remaining students set to learn in the Fall of 2014.
In just the first few months of TM practice, students and faculty have reported significants improvement in mood and performance. In fact, when surveyed, 92% of students stated they now get more work done and are making healthier choices. In addition, more than 80% of students feel less stress and anger alongside increased happiness, self-confidence and academic productivity.
“I am doing everything better than before. I fall asleep better and wake up better. My parents say I am more helpful at home,” says Adonis, 16 years of age. A classmate of Adonis’ also reports, “I’ve noticed I’m focusing more on my class work than I was before.” Jeff, a-17-year-old student, attests simply, “I love my TM man… I feel so relaxed inside.”
New Horizons leadership has also noticed the profound changes taking place in the school. Maureen Bransfield, Principal of New Horizons, says, “Introducing the Quiet Time Program has given many of our students access into their own internal power thus helping them to make better decisions, not to be so reactive, attend in a more productive and focused way in school, and decrease their use of tobacco and marijuana.” Indeed, a New Horizons junior reports that she has completely stopped smoking marijuana since she learned to meditate.
Moving forward, New Horizons plans to continue its partnership with the David Lynch Foundation.
“We must start giving opportunities for self-empowerment and self-generated tools for change. Our alternative education environments have an audience that is in need of these tools: the Quiet Time Program with Transcendental Meditation is a proven vehicle which can have profound individual results,” Ms. Bransfield says.