Strengthening School Attachment at Bridgepoint

Dr. Julie Mirshad teaches science and health at Bridgepoint High School, a continuation school for students, who, for various reasons, didn’t succeed in traditional schools and need extra time and support to catch up academically to the rest of their peers.

Dr. Julie quickly noticed the impact MBA Project groups had on her students. “Meditation really got the kids to think about things on a different level and it also caused them to reflect back on their behaviors. It also gave them the tools to just calm down a little bit, to just take a deep breath.”

She believes mindfulness meditation should be taught in more schools “because a lot of kids don’t even recognize their emotions, they just react. But in order to be mindful and recognize these patterns and make different choices in the future, it helps to understand and think about what’s happening. Sometimes it’s okay to be mad but what you do with the being mad is a different thing. And they just let it spiral out of control. It helps them a lot if they are able to think while they’re mad, think while they’re happy, or whenever.”

Meditation is especially helpful for anxious students. One specific student had a history of missing school because of her anxiety, but was able to cope by meditating. “When she was in meditation group, it really helped calm her down and get things back under control,” Dr. Julie explained.

“Her father has anxiety and she told me that she would be up at night talking to her dad telling him to do some of the things they were learning at MBA to help him alleviate some of his anxiety. She brought some of what she learned home with her and integrated it into her everyday life. I thought ‘how fantastic, you made it yours and it’s something that you’re doing and sharing with someone else in your life.’”

MBA Project groups are also important for Bridgepoint students because they realize that someone cares about them. “They said it’s like putting things on pause for a moment, to have a space that’s separate from everything else going on in the day,” Dr. Julie said. “I’ve heard them say ‘someone really asked me how I’m doing today’ and that’s meaningful. MBA instructors really want to know. That’s important for them, especially for our kids that have dysfunctional relationships in the rest of their lives to have someone that’s really concerned about them.”

Dr. Julie has witnessed how meaningful this is firsthand: “I can name one student in particular who was not very communicative with anybody. He put on a big front for whoever spoke to him. Micah, an MBA Project instructor, asked him ‘come on, man, what do you REALLY feel?’ and he actually told everyone where he really was and what was really going on at that moment. I thought ‘I can’t believe he did that.’ It was the only adult I’d ever seen him connect with, because no one had gotten this kid to talk, not 12 counselors, nobody.”

Students who participate in MBA Project groups develop a stronger sense of school attachment, meaning they are more likely to attend school and feel closer to their peers because of the experiences they’ve had and the skills they’ve developed in MBA Project groups. “They were able to share things with each other that they probably wouldn’t have in a cafeteria or with someone else in their class. They were able to share really personal things,” Dr. Julie explained. “I certainly talked about things that I wouldn’t have in a classroom setting, things that were really personal for me. And I think it helps them recognize that I’m similar, and I struggle and I have great things and sorrowful things. I think it brought us closer in that regard, to open up about things with each other.”


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Mindfulness & Life Skills for At-Risk Youth

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