Hickerson creates a zen space for faculty and staff

Bradley Bennett, Staff Writer

This year, history teacher Caitlin Hickerson created the Faculty and Staff Meditation and Relaxation Program, an initiative intended to bring a yoga and relaxation practice to the community’s staff.

The meditation sessions are available biweekly after school, beginning with gentle stretching and moving into a ten minute relaxation or mindfulness session.

Hickerson started the initiative after completing a 500-hour yoga certification, aiming to “create a quiet, calm, nurturing, and supportive space that allows the faculty and staff members to let go of their many responsibilities for a few moments,” she said.

The program is open to all of the school’s faculty, including Middle and Upper Division teachers, the Physical Education department, the cafeteria service, and maintenance workers.

Because all students already have access to yoga instruction, Hickerson created the adult-only program to create a safe space for teachers to momentarily relax their responsibilities, she said.

“There is a great deal of pressure on teachers to perform, make decisions in the moment, and care for others, so it’s important that teachers take time for self-care,” Hickerson said.

“Allowing teachers to destress targets one segment of the community, but if the teachers are more relaxed, the community can benefit as a whole,” psychologist Ian Pervil said.

“I enjoy creating the calm space here at Horace Mann and supporting my colleagues, who I respect so highly,” Hickerson said.

Many teachers, including mathematics teacher Tom Petras, English teacher Ira Brodsky and Eighth Grade Class Dean Carlos Aguilar, have been active participants in the program. 

“Ms. Hickerson is very good at creating a calming and relaxing environment,” Petras said. “We do a little bit of stretching and then a guided meditation, which is really calming in a place that’s usually very frenetic.”

“The afternoon that I participate in the program, I always leave feeling that I’ve reset myself at the end of the school day,” he said.

While shorter sessions are more conducive to faculty schedules, Hickerson hopes to offer a larger variety of more frequent sessions to accommodate more members, she said.

“I can’t overstate the benefit of finding time and space to introduce relaxation into your life,” Pervil said. “This program is just another way to introduce relaxation to lives of a lot of people who need it,” he said.