What do you do when you become the principal of a school with the lowest academic performance and  the highest rate of suspension, absenteeism, and teacher turn over?


Nothing for 15 minutes twice a day to be exact.

Image description: Photograph of boy with white skin and brown hair smiling with his eyes closed.

In 2003, James Dierkean, the innovative principal of Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco, decided to try something unconventional to mitigate the negative impacts that stress was causing for his students and staff.

He launched a meditation program. Specifically, a Transcendental Meditation (TM) program called Quiet Time.

Principal Dierke and his staff, with the help of The Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education , introduced Quiet Time (QT ), meditation-based stress-reduction and readiness to learn programs, for the 6th and 7th grade students and staff.

The results were astonishing- fewer suspensions, better attendance,and higher levels of academic achievement.

In just one year the classes participating in Quiet Time saw:

  • 3 % increase in attendance
  • 10 % in academic performance
  • 24 % reduction in suspension rates

After the success at Visitacion Valley Middle School, three more schools in the Bay area started implementing QT and had the same remarkable results. These Bay Area Middle and High Schools have dramatically improved the school culture from the inside out by implementing Quiet Time (QT ), meditation-based stress-reduction programs. Students and staff participate in two 15 minute sessions of QT per day and may choose to sit quietly or meditate.

The overwhelming majority chose to meditate and the results- increased focus and a sense of calm, are with them, not just during those two sessions, but for the entire day.

The schools, with the support of The Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education, provide each student one individual training session and three group sessions on Transcendental Meditation (TM). Their instructors teach the technique as well as science classes on the physiology and psychology of stress.

Meditation impacts the brain, cardiovascular system, reduces stress hormones and stress neurotransmitters, improves the immune system and these schools have seen the results and have the data to back it up.

Transcendental Meditation is a simple, natural mental technique that is easy to learn and practice. It does not involve any religion, philosophy, or change in lifestyle. You can learn more about TM at David Lynch Foundation.

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