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Updated: May 27, 2021

By Christine Mason, CEI Executive Director

Editors Note: One way we are giving back is to award stipends to teachers to implement a Hunger, Food Insecurity Curriculum.


It has been quite a year for CEI. This trip reminds me of the unexpected call I got last spring to provide a series of STEM workshops to a middle school in upstate New York. For that trip I flew into Newark and then traveled the Garden State Parkway for a long one-day trip up and back for the introduction to our series. In upstate New York, I worked with an expanded network of consultants to deliver something like 7 STEM presentations, including workshops on everything from Adobe Photoshop to Coding, modeling and scaling, and engineering.

Here are a few more reasons to give thanks this year for all of CEI’s supporters and opportunities. I am grateful for:

  1. The Fight for Children Annual conference in DC where Orinthia Harris and I presented on early childhood STEAM, followed by the annual NAESP conference where we had the honor of presenting with P21 Executive Director Helen Soule and several distinguished principals.

  2. A small handful of loyal CEI supporters who work behind the scenes with me to contemplate how to advance CEI’s work. We continue to believe that Heart Centered Education could transform education and the lives of teachers and the children we serve. That work, in fact, resulted in my award as a “Pioneer in Children’s Well-being,” a recognition from the Ashoka and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations.

  3. The book in progress on Mindfulness and Heart Centered Learning with co-authors Dr. Michele Rivers Murphy (a CEI Associate) and Dr. Yvette Jackson, former CEO and now Senior Scholar at the National Urban Alliance. Thanks to Michele, I delivered a session on Heart Beaming to about 40 children and their teachers in Pittsfield, MA, and today Michele is one of CEI’s Heart Beaming Trainers.

  4. The interactive version of our Heart Centered Learning Tool — thanks to teaming with Dr. John Tenny and ClassGather.

  5. Dr. Maud Schaafsma, a sociologist from Chicago, who found us while we were competing for the Pioneer award. Maud, a brilliant strategist, is helping to develop foundation proposals and guide CEI’s plans for helping our dreams take root and grow.

These accomplishments are supported by, and enhanced by, the dedicated work of Lisa Stepney, Michele Rivers Murphy, Suzan Mullane, Orinthia Harris, and Jill Flanders, who are becoming CEI Heart Beaming Trainers, and are donating time to develop materials and conduct Heart Centered Learning mini-pilots in OH, WVA, DC, PA, and MA.

  1. Thanks, too, to Paul Liabenow, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals, who remains a steadfast supporter and has helped to bring others such as Curriculum Crafters to CEI.

As I continue to give thanks this morning, I am also mindful of people such as Ingrid Padgett, CEI’s communication specialist, and Monica Jerbi, our web developer, who have helped to develop CEI’s annual strategic plans and provide ongoing support to CEI. And our editor, Lauren Hamilton, and the numerous associates and interns who have written articles for our blogs and e-Newsletters, supported our work with social media, and helped to maintain the CEI website. Quite an infrastructure for an organization that operates primarily as a virtual network! A testimony certainly to what we can do in this 21st Century, but also a testimony to the strong beliefs and convictions of many of us—the convictions that we can make a difference in the lives of many.

Then, last, but certainly not least, are two recently formed partnerships. CEI partners with the DC Association of Chartered Public Schools to offer STEM/STEAM lessons in DC and with Learning to Give and the National Turkey Federation to make compassion and caring more immediately real through a Hunger – Food Insecurity Curriculum. Teachers, you may be interested in our Round 2 Applications for stipends to help you implement this curriculum. There is a Dec. 9 deadline . There are also opportunities for students to win prizes for their research, essays, or service learning projects.


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