Christine Y. Mason Founder and Executive Director, Center for Educational ImprovementChristine Mason, Ph.D. Founder/CEO Heart Centered Learning®—CEI
Established in 2010, the Center for Educational Improvement (CEI) has joined with a number of leaders in mindfulness; science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM); neuroscience; and social emotional learning to advance 21st century learning in schools. CEI focuses on innovations, building exemplary schools and principals, conducting professional development, and undertaking research to create exemplary learning environments. Heart Centered Learning® is CEI’s signature approach to social emotional learning. Heart Centered Learning includes five elements (5 Cs) that lead to compassionate action—consciousness, compassion, confidence, courage, and community. Through these 5Cs, students become equipped with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, feel and show empathy for others, resolve conflicts nonviolently, think creatively, and overcome obstacles to succeed in the classroom and in life.
The visioning that is recommended by CEI builds off of Chris Mason’s (CEI’s executive director) earlier work. From 2011 to 2017, CEI worked with a team of principal leaders to develop our conceptual design for increasing compassion in schools. In 2017, CEI piloted our approach, including an instrument for guiding schools in implementing heart centered visions with schools in Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and West Virginia. As we worked with these pilot sites, we formalized our process for helping schools implement their visions for 21st century learning in ways that are responsive to the social-emotional needs of students.
CEI is currently expanding our efforts to build compassionate schools. Chris is a coauthor of Mindfulness Practices: Cultivating Heart Centered School Communities Where Students Focus and Flourish (Mason, Rivers Murphy, & Jackson, 2018) and Mindful School Communities: The Five Cs of Nurturing Heart Centered Learning (Mason et al., 2021), which serve as primers for school leaders to develop mindfulness–compassion protocol. CEI recently conducted a validation study for an instrument we have developed to help cultivate compassionate schools (Mason et al., 2018). The instrument, the School Compassionate Culture Analytical Tool for Educators(S-CCATE), drives a process for reviewing a school’s strengths and needs to begin to consider a vision for a compassionate school. That process is being used as a part of a project with Yale University’s Program for Recovery and Community Health and its Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative, where Chris is the Chief Advisor.