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Teachers retreat features Virtues Project expert

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Administrator at Devonshire Preschool: Ruby Lamb (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

Teachers have started a retreat designed to tackle youth violence and create a culture of caring.

American teacher Sally Baines, an expert in the Virtues Project and the keynote speaker at the Teacher Wellness Retreat, said on Monday: “The mission of The Virtues Project is to provide empowering strategies that inspire us to practise the virtues in our daily lives.

“We are all born with the virtues within us, this is about drawing them forth both in ourselves, the students that we teach, the colleagues we work with and even our families.”

Ms Baines, a Grade 5 teacher at the Atrium School, Massachusetts, and a Harvard University School of Education graduate, was speaking as the two-day programme, the first of its kind to be held in Bermuda, was launched at the Grotto Bay Hotel in Hamilton Parish by Alandra Swan, who won the Teacher of the Year award from event sponsor, the Bermuda Educational Network.

The programme was started in 1991 by a group of psychologists to counteract rising violence among young people and in families.

The group created a list of universal virtues, which included assertiveness, determination, forgiveness, honesty and justice, from thestudy of religious texts from around the world and came up with a plan to restore their practice in everyday life.

The United Nations secretariat later said the Virtues Project was a “model global programme for families of all cultures”.

La-Keesha Bean, an educational therapist at Heron Bay Primary School’s Success Academy in Southampton, said: “I thought it would be an awesome way to begin the school year so I could offer something to my students and colleagues in the new school year.

“We just completed an activity on the virtues and it felt really good to hear the strengths of others and learn how to cultivate that which might not be a strength in us.”

Ms Bean added: “Just being able to be among your colleagues, learning something from them, has been refreshing.

“It gave me some tools for how to better myself personally and professionally.

“I am thinking about what I can use in my classroom; we already practise things like mindfulness, but I think I can use the activity to engage my students better.”

Ruby Lamb, an administrator at Devonshire Preschool, said the programme had helped her to “reflect and focus”.

She added: “Life is so busy and chaotic and this is a time we can have some quiet to value some of the things perhaps we take for granted.

“It has helped me to reflect on myself and what my virtues and values are. I’ve met new people and realised that we all have similar interests, needs and concerns.”

The retreat will also include leading teachers and others who will discuss health, wellness and classroom practices, as well as ways for a better work life.

The Bermuda Educational Network sponsored the event with a grant from the Bermuda Community Foundation.

La-Keesha Bean, an educational therapist at Heron Bay Primary School’s Success Academy (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)
Sally Baines, a facilitator for The Virtues Project and keynote speaker for the Teacher Wellness Retreat (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)