Testimonials

Comments from former students that attended Tinicum Art & Science:

Brandon Shorts

“I attended public school for my freshman year. By the end of the year, I had lost all interest in academics, I was bullied and I was more anxious and depressed than I had ever been. I was in real danger of serious academic issues. My parents pulled me from that school at the end of that year. Through a friend, we had heard about TAS and looked into it. It ended up being the best thing I could of done.

I attended the school from my sophomore year through the end of my senior year. I graduated with a high school diploma and a set of life skills I would of never learned anywhere else. I learned everything from languages to critical thinking to physics and chemistry. My passion in science and math was nurtured and it put me on a path leading to college for chemical engineering. I ended up pursuing, and will be graduating with a degree in industrial engineering instead. But that broad foundation has been integral in my further education, regardless.

Even more importantly though, the school taught me the skills to cope with life. I learned everything from coping mechanisms for anxiety and depression, to socializing, to self-care. I can absolutely say the skills I learned at TAS had an essential influence on the well-adjusted and functional adult I am today. I left my freshman year hating high school, academics and many aspects of my situation. I was an intelligent kid in serious

trouble. I left my senior year with a 3.7 GPA on a path that would, ultimately, lead to becoming an engineer. The TAS model transformed my academic life and changed me as a person even more. I will always be beyond grateful for what I experienced there and even more hopeful the model lives on to always help more kids who struggled like I did.”

Aaron Smith

“I definitely consider my life leading up to the beginning of my sophomore year in high school a downwards spiral approaching a point of no return. For some reason, I thought that no one cared about my well-being, and as a result had virtually no control over my emotions, and was as introverted as they come. Then I found out about about the miraculous existence that I am proud to call my Alma Mater, Tinicum Art and Science. Throughout the three years I attended high school there, I learned so many things that helped me become the person I am today. Through various forms of meditation, mindfulness practice, and trying to combine these two things to help me train Shim Gum Do (a Korean sword-fighting martial art), this wonderful institution not only helped show me how to truly control my emotions and use them productively, but also enabled me to realize that I have such a huge support system in my life, and that asking for help is more than okay. I don’t know what I would have done or where I would be now without the school, but I do know for sure that it has changed and bettered so many lives, and for that, I am forever grateful.”

Aaron Smith

Justus Altmiller

Before I went to TAS I felt like I had no place in the world. Everywhere I went nothing seemed to work out. Then I found the school. For the first time in my life I had friends as well as teachers who cared. My teachers helped me get my life together and ready me for college. If I had not gone to that school I would not have the appreciation for the arts that I have nor the friends for life that I made.”

Justus Altmiller

Christine Bennet

It was over fifteen years ago, that I found the high school that would forever change my life. I had lost all direction and hope for my future and was making every wrong turn possible. My top rated public school was failing me and my family was ready to give up. It was the teachers at the Lotus School of Liberal arts that showed me the support, care and optimism I had been missing in the public-school setting. There is no way I could have achieved the amount of happiness and success in my life without having built the relationships and life skills at this unique school.

Through the mindfulness program of yoga and meditation I transformed my outlook on life. I developed an ability to navigate through challenging circumstances that has allowed me to succeed in many ways. Through the personal teacher-student relationships I developed a stronger sense of myself and learned how to develop quality relationships throughout my life. My teachers have remained my mentors and become my friends, always there to point me in the right direction.

I could have gotten a “good” education anywhere, what I gained from this school goes beyond a traditional education. I have become a life learner who can face all types of adversity without despair. I also believe I can contribute positively to my family and community due to the mindfulness practices that were instilled in me here. I never could have imagined making the dean’s list in college, living abroad, becoming a mother, having a career and running a business without this invaluable high school experience.

Crystal Ungaretta

I’d like to take the time to thank the staff of Tinicum Art and Science which has now transformed into the Lotus school. I attended TAS for my complete high school education and graduated in 2005. My time there definitely had a huge impact on my life especially those awkward teenage years when we are all trying to find out where our place is in the world.

Before TAS I struggled in the public school system for many reasons. My parents were going through a divorce and my life at home was chaotic. This affected my overall motivation and support system. I struggled academically because I became disinterested and depressed. It’s easy to feel lost amongst a 20 plus student classroom. I started my education at this school with poor social skills, no desire to learn and coping mechanisms that included, screaming, cursing, being disruptive in a classroom or just shutting down in a corner of a room. Though it took some time and there was a huge adjustment period I felt like I had a sanctuary and a family away from my own at TAS. I felt supported and gained a desire to learn and developed many relationships with students and staff. These relationships carried into my adulthood and today. I owe so much to the staff for helping me through a tough time in my life and helping me find my path but most of all for helping me complete my high school education.

I don’t know that I would have completed high school if I stayed in the public school system. The individualized approach and small classes helped me feel supported by my teachers and I stayed motivated. This prepared me for the next phase of my life. So many children slip through the cracks that have potential to achieve success and be functional members of society. I could have been one of those children. The mindfulness approach to teaching was therapeutic and gave myself and classmates a way to destress before absorbing the knowledge we needed to complete our courses. For the past 8 years I’ve worked as a nurse after graduating from Bucks County Community College’s nursing program. So much of my success is owed to the teachers here. This school’s support was there when I needed it the most.

Rosa Sophia

Without this school, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I graduated years ago, yet these teachers continue to be my friends and my support system. I don’t know what I would do without them. As a student, I was able to express myself creatively in ways that I could’ve never done in public school, following my dreams to create art, write, and finally enter the publishing industry. They encouraged me and helped me find my path. Thank you!

Mindfulness in the classroom: How to connect with young people on any subject

Mindfulness in the classroom: How to connect with young people on any subject

Our Head of School, Peter Ryan, interviewed Connie Meizinger, at our Open House.

Hi, Connie, could you give us an overview of Positive Psychology, and tell us about its place in the recent history of psychology?

Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, is one of the founding fathers of Positive Psychology. He wrote: “Positive Psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning. It aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive.” The late Christopher Peterson, another founder of PP, described it this way: “Positive psychology is about helping people move north of neutral.” Simply put, PP is about building what’s right with you, not just fixing what is perceived as wrong.

Seligman is the psychologist who developed the concept of learned helplessness, right? He did experiments with dogs and rats, and studied how people learn to give up hope when faced with overwhelming, “no exit” situations.

Yes, that is interesting how he shifted. He is a research scientist, a theorist, and from this, Seligman’s interest is in describing what is going on, not necessarily telling people “how to get better”. He researches the “what and why” of interventions. What works, and why does it work. The overall emphasis of Positive Psychology is “wellness”, and “wellness” has to do with seeing the total being, not just the things a person feels are going badly.

You see, traditional psychology, especially after World War II, was based on a disease model. Psychologists and psychiatrists “fixed” what was wrong with people. This is what Peterson means by getting “north of neutral”. We try to help people enhance the positive aspects of their lives. Just because someone is not sick does not mean they are healthy. Just because they are not depressed does not mean that they are happy or feel fufilled in their lives. The appoach of Positive Psychology seeks to be more balanced than the older models, by trying to encompass the whole of human experience.

So tell us a little about your work.

My work and mission is to make mindfulness and positive psychology concepts, skills and strategies accessible to teachers, youths, adults, and families. I work with small groups and individuals. I conduct workshops and speak at engagements.

What do you see as missing in high school education today, and how is PP and your work a corrective to this?

I think what is missing is a platform and general ability for students, parents, teachers, and administrators to be “present” to be “mindful”, that is, aware and awake to the present moment…on purpose.  I want to help schools promote pro-social behaviors which empower and support teachers to instruct and meet students where “they are” with a clear continuum of options that can realistically address and define objectives, personal growth and well-being.

   My hope is that my work introduces, encourages and promotes a pathway to presence, attention, awareness and wakefulness to the present moment. The general concepts of PP and  mindfulness offer a research based approach which is appropriate, practical, and sustainable. The need for stress reduction among our teachers and students is enormous.

What do you see as the most important developmental task for younger high school students?

I would say that cultivating independence and learning strategies for solving problems in real life situations. And the ability to soothe oneself.

 In closing, Connie, what would you like people reading this to understand about your work?

I would like people to understand that cultivating an authentic, independent sense of self can be grounded in learnable skills. That problem solving and related strategies can encourage the development of a foundation for connecting mindfully, for responding rather than reacting. I would like people to experience the whole range of emotion, negative and positive, but have the tools to use these for learning and growing.

 

Rosa Sophia

Without this school, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I graduated years ago, yet these teachers continue to be my friends and my support system. I don’t know what I would do without them. As a student, I was able to express myself creatively in ways that I could’ve never done in public school, following my dreams to create art, write, and finally enter the publishing industry. They encouraged me and helped me find my path. Thank you!

Just Breathe

Just Breathe: Mindfulness may help freshman stress less and smile more

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mindfulness training may be one way to help students successfully transition to college life, according to Penn State researchers.

The first semester of college is a time of great transition for many students — they often are living away from home for the first time, have a much more fluid schedule than in high school and are potentially surrounded by a new peer group. For all of these reasons and more, this can be an incredibly stressful time in a student’s life.

To help ease this transition, researchers offered an eight-session mindfulness training program to first-year students at Penn State, according to Kamila Dvorakova, a doctoral Compassion and Caring fellow in the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and lead author of the study. In mindfulness meditation, practitioners learn how to develop an accepting, nonjudgmental and kind attitude toward present moment thoughts and feelings, according to the researchers, who presented their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of American College Health.

Read more:

Lotus Students’ Art on Exhibit at Rep. Quinn’s Office

Lotus Students Participate in Representative Marguerite Quinn’s Monthly Art Exhibit

Art students from the Lotus School of Liberal Arts where chosen to participate in an art exhibit at Representative Quinn’s local office. The exhibit will open with a reception on Tuesday evening, May 2. Please plan to attend the opening to honor our students.

The office is located at:
1032 North Easton Road
Doylestown PA 18902

Tanya Storch Ph. D.

Tanya Storch Ph. D.

The Lotus School of Liberal Arts is among those very few schools in America which have the right vision and are capable of advancing education of our young generations in the right direction. Meaning, here, at the Lotus School, attention is paid to students’ hearts and minds, their active participation in the process of learning, personal responsibility for the community, and constant growth of their creativity. These principles derive from the Shim Gun Do, a classical Korean style of martial arts and meditation, but they could have come from any other form of classical education which is student-centered and in which the whole person of a student is carefully educated and nurtured to face challenges of modern world. At the Lotus School it’s not “all about numbers.” It’s truly and honestly all about students.

In several years of my research in the mindfulness-based schools of America I have not come across a community which is so open and welcoming as far as students various personalities (and their problems) are concerned, and at the same time, so efficient in helping students understand and learn to the perfection principles of science and mathematics, as well as of English literature and world history.

At the Lotus School, students are personally responsible for keeping the building of their school clean, — and clean it is! Each classroom invites to stay longer and linger in conversation even after the class is over. It is as if one belongs to a well-loved and well-protected home.

Food in the kitchen is made only out of the freshest ingredients (most fruit and vegetable is purchased locally), and once again, students participate in serving food and cleaning the kitchen after the meals. This is an excellent way to impart a social responsibility and sense of belonging to a group — exactly the qualities that are so needed today in America, but woefully absent in many educational institutions!

Author of Buddhist-based Universities in the United States: Searching for a New Model in Higher Education
Professor at the
University of the Pacific, California

Teenagers and Sleep

Water, Air, Sleep.

These are the absolute basics for human life. How to make sleep work teens!

Solutions:

  • Make sleep a priority. Review Teen Time in this toolkit and keep a sleep diary. Decide what you need to change to get enough sleep to stay healthy, happy, and smart!
  • Naps can help pick you up and make you work more efficiently, if you plan them right. Naps that are too long or too close to bedtime can interfere with your regular sleep.
  • Make your room a sleep haven. Keep it cool, quiet and dark. If you need to, get eyeshades or blackout curtains. Let in bright light in the morning to signal your body to wake up.
  • No pills, vitamins or drinks can replace good sleep. Consuming caffeine close to bedtime can hurt your sleep, so avoid coffee, tea, soda/pop and chocolate late in the day so you can get to sleep at night. Nicotine and alcohol will also interfere with your sleep.
  • When you are sleep deprived, you are as impaired as driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%, which is illegal for drivers in many states. Drowsy driving causes over 100,000 crashes each year. Recognize sleep deprivation and call someone else for a ride. Only sleep can save you!
  • Establish a bed and wake-time and stick to it, coming as close as you can on the weekends. A consistent sleep schedule will help you feel less tired since it allows your body to get in sync with its natural patterns. You will find that it’s easier to fall asleep at bedtime with this type of routine.
  • Don’t eat, drink, or exercise within a few hours of your bedtime. Don’t leave your homework for the last minute. Try to avoid the TV, computer and telephone in the hour before you
  • go to bed. Stick to quiet, calm activities, and you’ll fall asleep much more easily!
  • If you do the same things every night before you go to sleep, you teach your body the signals that it’s time for bed. Try taking a bath or shower (this will leave you extra time in the morning), or reading a book.
  • Try keeping a diary or to-do list. If you jot notes down before you go to sleep, you’ll be less likely to stay awake worrying or stressing.
  • When you hear your friends talking about their all-nighters, tell them how good you feel after getting enough sleep.
  • Most teens experience changes in their sleep schedules. Their internal body clocks can cause them to fall asleep and wake up later. You can’t change this, but you can participate in interactive activities and classes to help counteract your sleepiness. Make sure your activities at night are calming to counteract your already heightened alertness.

Check out the Full Article at sleepfoundation.org

Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary

Lotus students visited the Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary during the first week of school to practice map reading, navigation, and to enjoy some bird watching and hiking.

Guitar Ensemble

Students learn to play in a guitar ensemble as part of a music workshop day with Vic Rawlings. Thanks!

Shim Gum Do

A Shim Gum Do student practices sword amongst the cedar trees.

Felicia Ruth Holtz, M.A.

The Lotus School of Liberal Arts has all of the ingredients to allow a child’s innate potential to blossom. As an educator, I was blown away by the mindful curriculum and the obvious efforts to provide a healthy learning environment for adolescents. The faculty goes to great length to model kindness, discipline and the joy of lifelong learning. It’s an uplifting environment to step into and a forward thinking educational model.

Crystal Ungaretta

I’d like to take the time to thank the staff of Tinicum Art and Science which has now transformed into the Lotus school. I attended TAS for my complete high school education and graduated in 2005. My time there definitely had a huge impact on my life especially those awkward teenage years when we are all trying to find out where our place is in the world.

Before TAS I struggled in the public school system for many reasons. My parents were going through a divorce and my life at home was chaotic. This affected my overall motivation and support system. I struggled academically because I became disinterested and depressed. It’s easy to feel lost amongst a 20 plus student classroom. I started my education at this school with poor social skills, no desire to learn and coping mechanisms that included, screaming, cursing, being disruptive in a classroom or just shutting down in a corner of a room. Though it took some time and there was a huge adjustment period I felt like I had a sanctuary and a family away from my own at TAS. I felt supported and gained a desire to learn and developed many relationships with students and staff. These relationships carried into my adulthood and today. I owe so much to the staff for helping me through a tough time in my life and helping me find my path but most of all for helping me complete my high school education.

I don’t know that I would have completed high school if I stayed in the public school system. The individualized approach and small classes helped me feel supported by my teachers and I stayed motivated. This prepared me for the next phase of my life. So many children slip through the cracks that have potential to achieve success and be functional members of society. I could have been one of those children. The mindfulness approach to teaching was therapeutic and gave myself and classmates a way to destress before absorbing the knowledge we needed to complete our courses. For the past 8 years I’ve worked as a nurse after graduating from Bucks County Community College’s nursing program. So much of my success is owed to the teachers here. This school’s support was there when I needed it the most.

Paul and Ulla Warchol

Our son Leo was in a public high school that insisted he fit into its prevailing square hole of behavior, history and expectations. This situation became miserable for all of us. We had known about the Lotus school (in its earlier life as Tinicum Arts and Science) as a place that would not attempt to smash him into submission so we decided to take Leo there for a visit. The welcoming and non-judgemental environment of the school impressed and reassured us immediately. After the first few weeks of Leo’s junior year, we noticed a remarkable improvement in his attitude toward himself, and towards his responsibilities as student. I credit the teachers at Lotus with helping Leo attain the focus and sense of drive and responsibility that is drives his now successful life at university.

Martial Arts

The Way of Clear Mind – Clear Thinking – Clear Action

Shim Gum Do translated as “mind sword path” is an embodiment of Zen and Martial Arts. We offer daily instruction as part of our physical education program.

Shim Gum Do– mind, sword, path– is an original Zen Art that integrates the practice and principles of Zen meditation with the “action meditation” of martial arts practice. The wooden sword practice of Shim Gum Do comprises 330 forms, choreographed sequences of blocking and attacking movements. Each form is unique and generates a specific energy and a beatutiful, athletic physical expression. The practice of Shim Gum Do emphasizes attaining a clear mind, clear thinking, and clear action.

Shim Gum Do Founding Master Great Zen Master Chang Sik Kim began formal Zen study and practice by entering the Hwa Gye Sa in Seoul, Korea under the tutelage of Zen Master Seung Sahn Lee at a young age. Shim Gum Do emerged from the enlightenment experience of the monk Won Gwang, born as Chang Sik Kim, during a 100 day meditation and prayer retreat in the Sam Gak Sahn mountain range, in 1965.

Shim Gum Do Association Website

Justus Altmiller

Before I went to TAS I felt like I had no place in the world. Everywhere I went nothing seemed to work out. Then I found the school. For the first time in my life I had friends as well as teachers who cared. My teachers helped me get my life together and ready me for college. If I had not gone to that school I would not have the appreciation for the arts that I have nor the friends for life that I made.”

Justus Altmiller

Aaron Smith

“I definitely consider my life leading up to the beginning of my sophomore year in high school a downwards spiral approaching a point of no return. For some reason, I thought that no one cared about my well-being, and as a result had virtually no control over my emotions, and was as introverted as they come. Then I found out about about the miraculous existence that I am proud to call my Alma Mater, Tinicum Art and Science. Throughout the three years I attended high school there, I learned so many things that helped me become the person I am today. Through various forms of meditation, mindfulness practice, and trying to combine these two things to help me train Shim Gum Do (a Korean sword-fighting martial art), this wonderful institution not only helped show me how to truly control my emotions and use them productively, but also enabled me to realize that I have such a huge support system in my life, and that asking for help is more than okay. I don’t know what I would have done or where I would be now without the school, but I do know for sure that it has changed and bettered so many lives, and for that, I am forever grateful.”

Aaron Smith

Brandon Shorts

“I attended public school for my freshman year. By the end of the year, I had lost all interest in academics, I was bullied and I was more anxious and depressed than I had ever been. I was in real danger of serious academic issues. My parents pulled me from that school at the end of that year. Through a friend, we had heard about TAS and looked into it. It ended up being the best thing I could of done.

I attended the school from my sophomore year through the end of my senior year. I graduated with a high school diploma and a set of life skills I would of never learned anywhere else. I learned everything from languages to critical thinking to physics and chemistry. My passion in science and math was nurtured and it put me on a path leading to college for chemical engineering. I ended up pursuing, and will be graduating with a degree in industrial engineering instead. But that broad foundation has been integral in my further education, regardless.

Even more importantly though, the school taught me the skills to cope with life. I learned everything from coping mechanisms for anxiety and depression, to socializing, to self-care. I can absolutely say the skills I learned at TAS had an essential influence on the well-adjusted and functional adult I am today. I left my freshman year hating high school, academics and many aspects of my situation. I was an intelligent kid in serious

trouble. I left my senior year with a 3.7 GPA on a path that would, ultimately, lead to becoming an engineer. The TAS model transformed my academic life and changed me as a person even more. I will always be beyond grateful for what I experienced there and even more hopeful the model lives on to always help more kids who struggled like I did.”

Robert Nichols

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to interact with the students of Lotus as a guest Martial Arts Teacher. Having met Peter Ryan at an event at the River Valley Waldorf school, and after getting to know each other and our similar followings with martial arts, he graciously invited me to attend the schools morning meditations and martial arts classes. One of the first things that hit me when arriving at the school and meeting several of the students were their independence. Of course they were polite and respectful as you would hope any student is to a guest, but it was the way they carried about their morning. Preparing for classes, making their own breakfast, tidying the halls, interacting on a very adult level. This impressed me.

On the times I have taught in their class or even had several students travel to my dojo to attend class the students have always been out going and respectful. Of course there are students that are introverted and shy, but even still they were inquisitive and open to the experience. When introducing someone to an activity or movement outside of their usual comfort zone this can be a common source of stress. I have watched the students of Lotus adjust to new material presented to them and tackle the task of understanding it.

Over all I consistently enjoy the time I spend with the students of Lotus. Their thirst for knowledge and approach to learning inspires me. I hope to raise my own child with similar teaching values.

Robert Nichols
Chief Instructor/Owner
UNION UTA Martial Arts

Vic Rawlings

For the past 13 years I have been making regular visits to Tinicum Art and Science, averaging a week every semester. I enter as Visiting Faculty/Artist-in-Residence, teaching and presenting music and sound work at the extreme of the avant-garde; my Visiting Artist Residencies have included Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Oberlin Conservatory. Tinicum students have been open to engaging aesthetic experiences that are new to them and well beyond dominant trends. They have engaged extremely challenging work with great intelligence, skill, and most importantly: open minds. I have never encountered an institution with a culture as inclusive, flexible, and fundamentally mature as at Tinicum Art and Science. Patience, humility, and an interest in the unknown -rather than fear of the unknown- are the ways I have come to know and recognize Tinicum students.

Vic Rawlings

Christine Bennet

It was over fifteen years ago, that I found the high school that would forever change my life. I had lost all direction and hope for my future and was making every wrong turn possible. My top rated public school was failing me and my family was ready to give up. It was the teachers at the Lotus School of Liberal arts that showed me the support, care and optimism I had been missing in the public-school setting. There is no way I could have achieved the amount of happiness and success in my life without having built the relationships and life skills at this unique school.

Through the mindfulness program of yoga and meditation I transformed my outlook on life. I developed an ability to navigate through challenging circumstances that has allowed me to succeed in many ways. Through the personal teacher-student relationships I developed a stronger sense of myself and learned how to develop quality relationships throughout my life. My teachers have remained my mentors and become my friends, always there to point me in the right direction.

I could have gotten a “good” education anywhere, what I gained from this school goes beyond a traditional education. I have become a life learner who can face all types of adversity without despair. I also believe I can contribute positively to my family and community due to the mindfulness practices that were instilled in me here. I never could have imagined making the dean’s list in college, living abroad, becoming a mother, having a career and running a business without this invaluable high school experience.

Bill Hartwell

I am a school counselor and everyday I witness the teen experience of bullying, depression and the anxiety that comes with trying to be an exceptional college. None of this prepared me for the day I found my daughter sobbing in her room, broken by the pressure to be perfect while dealing with the “mean
girls.” I felt powerless to help and ignorant. How could I have not known what was happening, how did I not see this? The pain I felt moved me to act. I got busy looking for an answer and what I found was this little private school called The Lotus School (formerly Tinicum Art and Science) in Bucks County.

Here students took responsibility for their school and themselves. Their days were filled with reading, writing and arithmetic but more, so much more. They used yoga and martial arts for physical education. They had art for all and students prepped for and cleaned up after every fresh and healthy meal. Students spoke and acted like adults respecting each other. Mindfulness was part of the curriculum and restorative practices for conflicts were woven through everything they did. They offered support for the Individualize Education Plan her school district put together, earned college credits through the community college, and healed the damage that had been done to her spirit. My daughter is now a freshman in New York City working on her bachelor’s degree in fashion marketing. The Lotus School saved my daughter’s life.

Mindfulness in the classroom: How to connect with young people on any subject

Mindfulness in the classroom: How to connect with young people on any subject

Our Head of School, Peter Ryan, interviewed Connie Meizinger, at our Open House.

Hi, Connie, could you give us an overview of Positive Psychology, and tell us about its place in the recent history of psychology?

Martin Seligman, of the University of Pennsylvania, is one of the founding fathers of Positive Psychology. He wrote: “Positive Psychology is the scientific study of optimal human functioning. It aims to discover and promote the factors that allow individuals and communities to thrive.” The late Christopher Peterson, another founder of PP, described it this way: “Positive psychology is about helping people move north of neutral.” Simply put, PP is about building what’s right with you, not just fixing what is perceived as wrong.

Seligman is the psychologist who developed the concept of learned helplessness, right? He did experiments with dogs and rats, and studied how people learn to give up hope when faced with overwhelming, “no exit” situations.

Yes, that is interesting how he shifted. He is a research scientist, a theorist, and from this, Seligman’s interest is in describing what is going on, not necessarily telling people “how to get better”. He researches the “what and why” of interventions. What works, and why does it work. The overall emphasis of Positive Psychology is “wellness”, and “wellness” has to do with seeing the total being, not just the things a person feels are going badly.

You see, traditional psychology, especially after World War II, was based on a disease model. Psychologists and psychiatrists “fixed” what was wrong with people. This is what Peterson means by getting “north of neutral”. We try to help people enhance the positive aspects of their lives. Just because someone is not sick does not mean they are healthy. Just because they are not depressed does not mean that they are happy or feel fufilled in their lives. The appoach of Positive Psychology seeks to be more balanced than the older models, by trying to encompass the whole of human experience.

So tell us a little about your work.

My work and mission is to make mindfulness and positive psychology concepts, skills and strategies accessible to teachers, youths, adults, and families. I work with small groups and individuals. I conduct workshops and speak at engagements.

What do you see as missing in high school education today, and how is PP and your work a corrective to this?

I think what is missing is a platform and general ability for students, parents, teachers, and administrators to be “present” to be “mindful”, that is, aware and awake to the present moment…on purpose.  I want to help schools promote pro-social behaviors which empower and support teachers to instruct and meet students where “they are” with a clear continuum of options that can realistically address and define objectives, personal growth and well-being.

   My hope is that my work introduces, encourages and promotes a pathway to presence, attention, awareness and wakefulness to the present moment. The general concepts of PP and  mindfulness offer a research based approach which is appropriate, practical, and sustainable. The need for stress reduction among our teachers and students is enormous.

What do you see as the most important developmental task for younger high school students?

I would say that cultivating independence and learning strategies for solving problems in real life situations. And the ability to soothe oneself.

 In closing, Connie, what would you like people reading this to understand about your work?

I would like people to understand that cultivating an authentic, independent sense of self can be grounded in learnable skills. That problem solving and related strategies can encourage the development of a foundation for connecting mindfully, for responding rather than reacting. I would like people to experience the whole range of emotion, negative and positive, but have the tools to use these for learning and growing.

 

Rosa Sophia

Without this school, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I graduated years ago, yet these teachers continue to be my friends and my support system. I don’t know what I would do without them. As a student, I was able to express myself creatively in ways that I could’ve never done in public school, following my dreams to create art, write, and finally enter the publishing industry. They encouraged me and helped me find my path. Thank you!

Just Breathe

Just Breathe: Mindfulness may help freshman stress less and smile more

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mindfulness training may be one way to help students successfully transition to college life, according to Penn State researchers.

The first semester of college is a time of great transition for many students — they often are living away from home for the first time, have a much more fluid schedule than in high school and are potentially surrounded by a new peer group. For all of these reasons and more, this can be an incredibly stressful time in a student’s life.

To help ease this transition, researchers offered an eight-session mindfulness training program to first-year students at Penn State, according to Kamila Dvorakova, a doctoral Compassion and Caring fellow in the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and lead author of the study. In mindfulness meditation, practitioners learn how to develop an accepting, nonjudgmental and kind attitude toward present moment thoughts and feelings, according to the researchers, who presented their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of American College Health.

Read more:

Lotus Students’ Art on Exhibit at Rep. Quinn’s Office

Lotus Students Participate in Representative Marguerite Quinn’s Monthly Art Exhibit

Art students from the Lotus School of Liberal Arts where chosen to participate in an art exhibit at Representative Quinn’s local office. The exhibit will open with a reception on Tuesday evening, May 2. Please plan to attend the opening to honor our students.

The office is located at:
1032 North Easton Road
Doylestown PA 18902

Tanya Storch Ph. D.

Tanya Storch Ph. D.

The Lotus School of Liberal Arts is among those very few schools in America which have the right vision and are capable of advancing education of our young generations in the right direction. Meaning, here, at the Lotus School, attention is paid to students’ hearts and minds, their active participation in the process of learning, personal responsibility for the community, and constant growth of their creativity. These principles derive from the Shim Gun Do, a classical Korean style of martial arts and meditation, but they could have come from any other form of classical education which is student-centered and in which the whole person of a student is carefully educated and nurtured to face challenges of modern world. At the Lotus School it’s not “all about numbers.” It’s truly and honestly all about students.

In several years of my research in the mindfulness-based schools of America I have not come across a community which is so open and welcoming as far as students various personalities (and their problems) are concerned, and at the same time, so efficient in helping students understand and learn to the perfection principles of science and mathematics, as well as of English literature and world history.

At the Lotus School, students are personally responsible for keeping the building of their school clean, — and clean it is! Each classroom invites to stay longer and linger in conversation even after the class is over. It is as if one belongs to a well-loved and well-protected home.

Food in the kitchen is made only out of the freshest ingredients (most fruit and vegetable is purchased locally), and once again, students participate in serving food and cleaning the kitchen after the meals. This is an excellent way to impart a social responsibility and sense of belonging to a group — exactly the qualities that are so needed today in America, but woefully absent in many educational institutions!

Author of Buddhist-based Universities in the United States: Searching for a New Model in Higher Education
Professor at the
University of the Pacific, California

Teenagers and Sleep

Water, Air, Sleep.

These are the absolute basics for human life. How to make sleep work teens!

Solutions:

  • Make sleep a priority. Review Teen Time in this toolkit and keep a sleep diary. Decide what you need to change to get enough sleep to stay healthy, happy, and smart!
  • Naps can help pick you up and make you work more efficiently, if you plan them right. Naps that are too long or too close to bedtime can interfere with your regular sleep.
  • Make your room a sleep haven. Keep it cool, quiet and dark. If you need to, get eyeshades or blackout curtains. Let in bright light in the morning to signal your body to wake up.
  • No pills, vitamins or drinks can replace good sleep. Consuming caffeine close to bedtime can hurt your sleep, so avoid coffee, tea, soda/pop and chocolate late in the day so you can get to sleep at night. Nicotine and alcohol will also interfere with your sleep.
  • When you are sleep deprived, you are as impaired as driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%, which is illegal for drivers in many states. Drowsy driving causes over 100,000 crashes each year. Recognize sleep deprivation and call someone else for a ride. Only sleep can save you!
  • Establish a bed and wake-time and stick to it, coming as close as you can on the weekends. A consistent sleep schedule will help you feel less tired since it allows your body to get in sync with its natural patterns. You will find that it’s easier to fall asleep at bedtime with this type of routine.
  • Don’t eat, drink, or exercise within a few hours of your bedtime. Don’t leave your homework for the last minute. Try to avoid the TV, computer and telephone in the hour before you
  • go to bed. Stick to quiet, calm activities, and you’ll fall asleep much more easily!
  • If you do the same things every night before you go to sleep, you teach your body the signals that it’s time for bed. Try taking a bath or shower (this will leave you extra time in the morning), or reading a book.
  • Try keeping a diary or to-do list. If you jot notes down before you go to sleep, you’ll be less likely to stay awake worrying or stressing.
  • When you hear your friends talking about their all-nighters, tell them how good you feel after getting enough sleep.
  • Most teens experience changes in their sleep schedules. Their internal body clocks can cause them to fall asleep and wake up later. You can’t change this, but you can participate in interactive activities and classes to help counteract your sleepiness. Make sure your activities at night are calming to counteract your already heightened alertness.

Check out the Full Article at sleepfoundation.org

Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary

Lotus students visited the Mariton Wildlife Sanctuary during the first week of school to practice map reading, navigation, and to enjoy some bird watching and hiking.

Guitar Ensemble

Students learn to play in a guitar ensemble as part of a music workshop day with Vic Rawlings. Thanks!

Shim Gum Do

A Shim Gum Do student practices sword amongst the cedar trees.

Felicia Ruth Holtz, M.A.

The Lotus School of Liberal Arts has all of the ingredients to allow a child’s innate potential to blossom. As an educator, I was blown away by the mindful curriculum and the obvious efforts to provide a healthy learning environment for adolescents. The faculty goes to great length to model kindness, discipline and the joy of lifelong learning. It’s an uplifting environment to step into and a forward thinking educational model.

Crystal Ungaretta

I’d like to take the time to thank the staff of Tinicum Art and Science which has now transformed into the Lotus school. I attended TAS for my complete high school education and graduated in 2005. My time there definitely had a huge impact on my life especially those awkward teenage years when we are all trying to find out where our place is in the world.

Before TAS I struggled in the public school system for many reasons. My parents were going through a divorce and my life at home was chaotic. This affected my overall motivation and support system. I struggled academically because I became disinterested and depressed. It’s easy to feel lost amongst a 20 plus student classroom. I started my education at this school with poor social skills, no desire to learn and coping mechanisms that included, screaming, cursing, being disruptive in a classroom or just shutting down in a corner of a room. Though it took some time and there was a huge adjustment period I felt like I had a sanctuary and a family away from my own at TAS. I felt supported and gained a desire to learn and developed many relationships with students and staff. These relationships carried into my adulthood and today. I owe so much to the staff for helping me through a tough time in my life and helping me find my path but most of all for helping me complete my high school education.

I don’t know that I would have completed high school if I stayed in the public school system. The individualized approach and small classes helped me feel supported by my teachers and I stayed motivated. This prepared me for the next phase of my life. So many children slip through the cracks that have potential to achieve success and be functional members of society. I could have been one of those children. The mindfulness approach to teaching was therapeutic and gave myself and classmates a way to destress before absorbing the knowledge we needed to complete our courses. For the past 8 years I’ve worked as a nurse after graduating from Bucks County Community College’s nursing program. So much of my success is owed to the teachers here. This school’s support was there when I needed it the most.

Paul and Ulla Warchol

Our son Leo was in a public high school that insisted he fit into its prevailing square hole of behavior, history and expectations. This situation became miserable for all of us. We had known about the Lotus school (in its earlier life as Tinicum Arts and Science) as a place that would not attempt to smash him into submission so we decided to take Leo there for a visit. The welcoming and non-judgemental environment of the school impressed and reassured us immediately. After the first few weeks of Leo’s junior year, we noticed a remarkable improvement in his attitude toward himself, and towards his responsibilities as student. I credit the teachers at Lotus with helping Leo attain the focus and sense of drive and responsibility that is drives his now successful life at university.

Martial Arts

The Way of Clear Mind – Clear Thinking – Clear Action

Shim Gum Do translated as “mind sword path” is an embodiment of Zen and Martial Arts. We offer daily instruction as part of our physical education program.

Shim Gum Do– mind, sword, path– is an original Zen Art that integrates the practice and principles of Zen meditation with the “action meditation” of martial arts practice. The wooden sword practice of Shim Gum Do comprises 330 forms, choreographed sequences of blocking and attacking movements. Each form is unique and generates a specific energy and a beatutiful, athletic physical expression. The practice of Shim Gum Do emphasizes attaining a clear mind, clear thinking, and clear action.

Shim Gum Do Founding Master Great Zen Master Chang Sik Kim began formal Zen study and practice by entering the Hwa Gye Sa in Seoul, Korea under the tutelage of Zen Master Seung Sahn Lee at a young age. Shim Gum Do emerged from the enlightenment experience of the monk Won Gwang, born as Chang Sik Kim, during a 100 day meditation and prayer retreat in the Sam Gak Sahn mountain range, in 1965.

Shim Gum Do Association Website

Justus Altmiller

Before I went to TAS I felt like I had no place in the world. Everywhere I went nothing seemed to work out. Then I found the school. For the first time in my life I had friends as well as teachers who cared. My teachers helped me get my life together and ready me for college. If I had not gone to that school I would not have the appreciation for the arts that I have nor the friends for life that I made.”

Justus Altmiller

Aaron Smith

“I definitely consider my life leading up to the beginning of my sophomore year in high school a downwards spiral approaching a point of no return. For some reason, I thought that no one cared about my well-being, and as a result had virtually no control over my emotions, and was as introverted as they come. Then I found out about about the miraculous existence that I am proud to call my Alma Mater, Tinicum Art and Science. Throughout the three years I attended high school there, I learned so many things that helped me become the person I am today. Through various forms of meditation, mindfulness practice, and trying to combine these two things to help me train Shim Gum Do (a Korean sword-fighting martial art), this wonderful institution not only helped show me how to truly control my emotions and use them productively, but also enabled me to realize that I have such a huge support system in my life, and that asking for help is more than okay. I don’t know what I would have done or where I would be now without the school, but I do know for sure that it has changed and bettered so many lives, and for that, I am forever grateful.”

Aaron Smith

Brandon Shorts

“I attended public school for my freshman year. By the end of the year, I had lost all interest in academics, I was bullied and I was more anxious and depressed than I had ever been. I was in real danger of serious academic issues. My parents pulled me from that school at the end of that year. Through a friend, we had heard about TAS and looked into it. It ended up being the best thing I could of done.

I attended the school from my sophomore year through the end of my senior year. I graduated with a high school diploma and a set of life skills I would of never learned anywhere else. I learned everything from languages to critical thinking to physics and chemistry. My passion in science and math was nurtured and it put me on a path leading to college for chemical engineering. I ended up pursuing, and will be graduating with a degree in industrial engineering instead. But that broad foundation has been integral in my further education, regardless.

Even more importantly though, the school taught me the skills to cope with life. I learned everything from coping mechanisms for anxiety and depression, to socializing, to self-care. I can absolutely say the skills I learned at TAS had an essential influence on the well-adjusted and functional adult I am today. I left my freshman year hating high school, academics and many aspects of my situation. I was an intelligent kid in serious

trouble. I left my senior year with a 3.7 GPA on a path that would, ultimately, lead to becoming an engineer. The TAS model transformed my academic life and changed me as a person even more. I will always be beyond grateful for what I experienced there and even more hopeful the model lives on to always help more kids who struggled like I did.”

Robert Nichols

Over the past year I have had the opportunity to interact with the students of Lotus as a guest Martial Arts Teacher. Having met Peter Ryan at an event at the River Valley Waldorf school, and after getting to know each other and our similar followings with martial arts, he graciously invited me to attend the schools morning meditations and martial arts classes. One of the first things that hit me when arriving at the school and meeting several of the students were their independence. Of course they were polite and respectful as you would hope any student is to a guest, but it was the way they carried about their morning. Preparing for classes, making their own breakfast, tidying the halls, interacting on a very adult level. This impressed me.

On the times I have taught in their class or even had several students travel to my dojo to attend class the students have always been out going and respectful. Of course there are students that are introverted and shy, but even still they were inquisitive and open to the experience. When introducing someone to an activity or movement outside of their usual comfort zone this can be a common source of stress. I have watched the students of Lotus adjust to new material presented to them and tackle the task of understanding it.

Over all I consistently enjoy the time I spend with the students of Lotus. Their thirst for knowledge and approach to learning inspires me. I hope to raise my own child with similar teaching values.

Robert Nichols
Chief Instructor/Owner
UNION UTA Martial Arts

Vic Rawlings

For the past 13 years I have been making regular visits to Tinicum Art and Science, averaging a week every semester. I enter as Visiting Faculty/Artist-in-Residence, teaching and presenting music and sound work at the extreme of the avant-garde; my Visiting Artist Residencies have included Harvard, Princeton, Dartmouth, and Oberlin Conservatory. Tinicum students have been open to engaging aesthetic experiences that are new to them and well beyond dominant trends. They have engaged extremely challenging work with great intelligence, skill, and most importantly: open minds. I have never encountered an institution with a culture as inclusive, flexible, and fundamentally mature as at Tinicum Art and Science. Patience, humility, and an interest in the unknown -rather than fear of the unknown- are the ways I have come to know and recognize Tinicum students.

Vic Rawlings

Christine Bennet

It was over fifteen years ago, that I found the high school that would forever change my life. I had lost all direction and hope for my future and was making every wrong turn possible. My top rated public school was failing me and my family was ready to give up. It was the teachers at the Lotus School of Liberal arts that showed me the support, care and optimism I had been missing in the public-school setting. There is no way I could have achieved the amount of happiness and success in my life without having built the relationships and life skills at this unique school.

Through the mindfulness program of yoga and meditation I transformed my outlook on life. I developed an ability to navigate through challenging circumstances that has allowed me to succeed in many ways. Through the personal teacher-student relationships I developed a stronger sense of myself and learned how to develop quality relationships throughout my life. My teachers have remained my mentors and become my friends, always there to point me in the right direction.

I could have gotten a “good” education anywhere, what I gained from this school goes beyond a traditional education. I have become a life learner who can face all types of adversity without despair. I also believe I can contribute positively to my family and community due to the mindfulness practices that were instilled in me here. I never could have imagined making the dean’s list in college, living abroad, becoming a mother, having a career and running a business without this invaluable high school experience.

Bill Hartwell

I am a school counselor and everyday I witness the teen experience of bullying, depression and the anxiety that comes with trying to be an exceptional college. None of this prepared me for the day I found my daughter sobbing in her room, broken by the pressure to be perfect while dealing with the “mean
girls.” I felt powerless to help and ignorant. How could I have not known what was happening, how did I not see this? The pain I felt moved me to act. I got busy looking for an answer and what I found was this little private school called The Lotus School (formerly Tinicum Art and Science) in Bucks County.

Here students took responsibility for their school and themselves. Their days were filled with reading, writing and arithmetic but more, so much more. They used yoga and martial arts for physical education. They had art for all and students prepped for and cleaned up after every fresh and healthy meal. Students spoke and acted like adults respecting each other. Mindfulness was part of the curriculum and restorative practices for conflicts were woven through everything they did. They offered support for the Individualize Education Plan her school district put together, earned college credits through the community college, and healed the damage that had been done to her spirit. My daughter is now a freshman in New York City working on her bachelor’s degree in fashion marketing. The Lotus School saved my daughter’s life.